The Ceremony of Immersing a Budha Image

The Ceremony of Immersing a Buddha Image, Um Phra Dam Nam
10-14 October 2007

Venue: Wat Trai Phum, Phetchabun Province

The ceremony of immersing a Buddha image or locally called Um Phra Dam Nam is a unique ceremony that cannot be found anywhere in the world but here at Phetchabun Province, 346 km north of Bangkok. The ceremony is held every year to coincide “Sat Thai” Day, i.e. the full moon day of the 10th lunar month, the day the Thais believe all spirits are released to receive the food dedicated by their relatives. This year, the celebration will be held from 10 to 14 October with the ceremony on 11 October at Wat Trai Phum, which houses a Buddha Image called Phra Buddha Maha Thamma Racha.

There is a folktale telling the origin of this odd ceremony. The story has it that one day about 400 years ago, there was a strange incident in which fishermen in the Pasak river in the area of the present Phetchabun province couldn’t catch any fish as if there were no more fish in the river. This caused puzzle to everyone.

What was even more amazing, the current of the river became still and then gradually sent up more and more bubbles as if it were boiling. Finally a big and deep whirling current was formed. This miracle startled everyone when a Buddha image emerged above the water going up and down as if the Buddha were enjoying himself in the water. Realizing the sacredness of the Buddha image, people of the region brought it up to be kept in Wat Trai Phum for worship.

Then another miracle happened on Sat Thai Day the next year, when the Buddha image vanished from the temple and was found floating in the same position of the Pasak river where the image appeared last time. Since then, on Sat Thai Day of every years, a ceremony of immersing the Buddha image has been held in Phetchabun in accordance with the belief that if the ceremony were not held in any year, the Buddha would disappear, resulting in drought and a crop failure in the province. The ceremony also serves to celebrate the holiness of the Buddha image, to help spread Buddhism, and to promote tourism in the province.

Usually on this day, people in large numbers will come to worship the Buddha image at the temple and cover it with gold leaf. And there will be a procession going round the city (10 October), led by the Buddha image, which is placed on a butsabok, a small movable pavilion, and followed by traditionally dressed dancers, as well as ordinary people.

The highlight of the ceremony takes place when the sacred Buddha image is put onto butsabok by the provincial governor and carried in a barge in which there are other officials of high ranks and some monks from Wat Trai Phum (11 October).

The barge then glides down to the landing stage of Wat Trai Phum where Phra Phutta Maha Thamma Racha is put into the water by the governor. The water there, as is believed by Phetchabun people, then becomes holy. And happy scenes of people jumping into the water swimming, dipping up a little of it, or even grasping floating bits of golden leaf coming off the Buddha, are witnessed by visitors.

More about the northern region of Thailand
For more information, please contact:
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Northern Office: Region 3
Tel: +66 (0) 5525 2742 to 3