500 Thailand Monks on Parade: Why Every Day Should Be Amazing

I love living in a place like Chiang Mai Thailand because you never know exactly what the day will bring.

One morning, a few months ago, I was just waking up in my apartment when I heard far away chanting.

In Thailand, it isn’t unusual to hear Buddhists reciting mantras or saying prayers but this was different.

Many voices, accompanied by bells and drums, were so filling in the air you could almost feel it.

500 Dhutanga Thailand Monks carrying Buddha relics

Rubbing sleep from my eyes, I got out of bed and went out to my 15th floor balcony to see what all the fuss was.

Between the buildings a few blocks away, I could just make out a constant stream of saffron robed monks in procession down one of the city’s main streets, alms bowls in hand, marching to some unknown destination.

Since I am always on the lookout for photographic opportunities I had to go investigate.

So, I threw on some clothes, grabbed my camera and rushed out to see what was going on.

500 Dhutanga Thailand Monks carrying Buddha relics

A crowd had gathered along the street and police had begun directing traffic to allow the procession to pass.

The sidewalk was covered with yellow flower pedals and locals, all dressed in white, were kneeling along the route in order to be blessed and give offerings.

Since I had come late to the proceedings most of the monks had passed but I wanted to move ahead so I could position myself for better photographs.

A very old man, sensing my desire to move to the front, asked one of the monks to let me pass through the line so I could move up the opposite side of the street where there was less congestion.

500 Dhutanga Thailand Monks carrying Buddha relics

I was able to find some great vantage points and was able to make some pretty good images.

What I had stumbled upon was a procession of 500 Dhutanga Thailand monks who were carrying relics of the Buddha through town.

This is a tradition that goes back millennia, when Chiang Mai was suffering from an outbreak of cholera and “an epidemic of devils.”

For such a large and beautiful undertaking there is remarkably little information, in English anyway, that describes the event.

It is said that they bring good luck for the Thai new year, known as Songkran, which is typically April 13-15.

I am specifically writing about this because back in December, there was another event called “The Gathering of 10,000 Monks” that the city just seems to take in stride.

500 Dhutanga Thailand Monks carrying Buddha relics

I want to remind myself of how special things like this are and not to take these spectacles for granted.

A little over three years ago, at the age of 50, I took early retirement, sold most of my stuff, and decided to live a life of adventure instead of one of comfort and possession.

I am all too familiar with the trap that we can all fall into where we get comfortable and don’t challenge ourselves or conversely allow the beauty of life to become boring and routine.

Even though I have chosen a path different than most people, I still occasionally have to remind myself to see the beauty that happens around me.

I have learned through experience how easy it is to miss the wonderful things that happen every day and I don’t want to do that.

Even if it is something as routine as 500 monks carrying relics of the Buddha through the city.

36 thoughts on “500 Thailand Monks on Parade: Why Every Day Should Be Amazing”

  1. Your pictures are beautiful! Although this is something not so out of the ordinary there, for us to see it is amazing! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. It looks like you got the privilege of experiencing something wonderful. Not to mention that you got some really great and powerful photos!

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  3. Wow, that’s pretty incredible. I had the rare chance as a teenager to spend the better part of 1/2 a year in India. Doing that changed my entire perspective on how I view the world, culture and lifestyles, even over 20 years later it shapes how I see things.

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  4. This blog post gave me goosebumps! This was absolutely beautiful and you captured the culture and essence of this event of these 500 Dhutanga monks wonderfully. I love this and make me really want to upgrade my camera lens for moments like this!

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  5. Wow, I bet this was pretty cool to see! I would love to spend time abroad to spend time in a different culture.

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  6. Those pictures are amazing. I am in awe of the monks. Their discipline and devotion are unparalleled.

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  7. Wow, I can’t imagine waking up hearing that… it’s got to be so interesting living there. So much different than here in the states.

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  8. This is really incredible. You really captured some amazing photos. I quite my job as a nurse almost 7 years ago and have followed my dream as a writer and now travel blogger. It’s been an incredible experience that I hope will take me around he world to experience things just like this first hand.

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  9. What an experience to witness this, looks wonderful. I agree that you need to make every day amazing though. Thanks for this post.

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  10. This is really amazing. I love viewing and taking part in different cultures (and what is usually routine to them.) It’s so interesting!

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  11. wow – how many relics are there? This is so beautiful! I am glad you took the time to capture it on film as well as enjoy it away from the lens.

    Reply

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