Oxen are guided by royal attendants during
royal plowing ceremonies last year. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
The annual Royal Plowing Ceremony at Sanam Luang near
the Grand Palace in Bangkok, and the accompanying Cultivation Ceremony
held at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha the day before, are of great
significance in Thailand. This year the ceremonies are taking place on
May 12 and 13.
During the ceremonies, appropriate strains of
different grains for cultivating crops are selected just prior to the
planting season, and rituals are performed to interpret the yearís
harvest. Grain selection is an important consideration when planting
crops, as the crops rely on soil, ample rainfall and other natural
The Cultivation Ceremony is also performed to help
keep the different grains free from disease, producing a bountiful
His Majesty the King, accompanied by Her Majesty the
Queen, usually presides over the Cultivation Ceremony held at the Temple
of the Emerald Buddha.
The Royal Plowing Ceremony signals the beginning of
the planting season in Thailand. Two well cared for oxen of the same
color pull an ancient plow, breaking the ground so that sacred seeds may
be planted. Two other oxen wait in reserve.
Two Brahman priests sprinkling sacred water along the
path lead the royal procession, with its nine-tiered royal umbrella.
Two pairs of female guardians carry grain in one gold
and one silver container following behind the plow, seeding the tilled
Three circuits tilling the earth around Sanam Luang
are completed and at the end the oxen are offered eight types of foods
to select from: rice grain, corn, peas, sesame, liqueur, water and
grass. Brahman priests then interpret their selection.
Following the ceremony, many people collect the seeds
from the ground to keep as sacred objects promising a prosperous year,
while others sow the ceremonial seeds mixed in with other seeds to
sanctify the seasonís crop.