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    Posted August 3, 2012 by
    Saraburi Province, Thailand
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    Offering Flowers to Start the Buddhist Lent in Thailand


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Amy072 had the opportunity to photograph the start of Buddhist Lent in Saraburi province, Thailand. Buddhist Lent, otherwise known as Khao Phansa in Thai, takes place for three lunar cycles and it is a time where monks stay in the temples and meditate intensely, she says. She says a highlight of the event is seeing people offer flowers as alms.

    But she learned later on that monk dean of Saraburi, Phradej Phrakhun Phradhammapiduk, encouraged people to also give nonperishable goods so that they can be given to those who were suffering from hardship in other provinces in Thailand. She says during the ceremony, people offered a specific flower for alms known as the Dancing Lady Ginger, which she says is native to Thailand and Vietnam.

    'These flowers are used to offer to monks to start the Buddhist Lent because not only are they beautiful, but they only bloom during the rainy season, which is the period of time during the Buddhist Lent,' she says. 'How perfect is it to offer a type of flower that only blooms during the Buddhist Lent to start the Buddhist Lent every year so that these flowers can be used to pay homage to the Lord Buddha,' she says.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    Every year in Saraburi Province, Thailand, there is a tradition of offering flowers to monks to start off the Buddhist Lent Season. Only one type of flower is used and it is called the 'Dancing Lady Ginger' flower. Funny name isn't it? You might wonder why it is called it. Well, it is because the little flowers that varies in 3 colors (white, yellow, or pink) 'dances' with even the slightest breeze, it looks as if it is dancing. Since this type of flower if in the ginger family of plants, it has ginger in its name. Dancing Lady ginger is a native flower here in Thailand and it only blooms once a year-- which happens to be the time during the Buddhist Lent (August-Novbember).

    Since it is a tradition that happens only once a year in Saraburi Province, hundreds of people from in Saraburi province and also other places throughout Thailand would come together to participate in this tradition because as I mentioned, this tradition marks the start of the Buddhist Lent, which is an important 3 months for Buddhists all around the world. This year there were over 3,000 monks that came to receive flowers and non perishable goods from the hundreds of people.

    As for myself, since I didn't grow up in Thailand, I didn't know that there was such thing as offering flowers to monks. I'm glad that I was able to come and participate in it as well.

    Another cool thing about this event was that not only did we get to offer flowers, but we also offered non perishable goods that will be sent to the 4 southern bordering provinces of Thailand to help aid people and monks living in those provinces. There has been many bombings and hardships that has taken place in those provinces for many years now and it is a good thing that we can give food to help those living in the south.
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