Crowds turn out to revere largest Buddha statue found in Laos' Bokeo during Wesak Day


Image from Vientiane Times/ANN

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): Hundreds of people dressed in respectful white shirts and blouses on Wesak Day this Wednesday took part in a procession to pay their respects to the largest Buddha image unearthed during ongoing excavations in Tonpheung district, Bokeo​ province.

The statue was paraded from a pavilion by the Mekong River to Thongthip Phatthanaram temple in Yaitonpheung village, where it will be housed for the foreseeable future.

Preparations for the procession began at 8am when provincial authorities readied a vehicle to carry the statue, which was hoisted onto the vehicle by a crane at 1pm.

Live broadcast showed that at 4pm monks arrived to take part in the procession and at 5pm the large group of devotees and worshippers walked along the riverbank opposite Done Pheungkham island to Thongthip Phatthanaram temple.

Monks murmured prayers as they walked and people lined up by the roadside to watch the procession and pay homage to the serene-faced Buddha image.

Upon arrival at the temple, monks draped the statue in the traditional items of clothing and conducted religious ceremonies, according to the Lao Buddhist Fellowship Association in Bokeo province.

The procession coincided with Visakha Bousa Day (Buddha Day) in the Lao calendar, which marks not only the Lord Buddha’s birth, but also his enlightenment and death, which all occurred on the 15th day of the 6th waxing moon in the Buddhist calendar.

The statue measures 2.67 metres in height and is 2.24 metres wide. It was discovered last week during excavations on Done Pheungkham island, where several hundred statues and artefacts have been found buried in the sand since excavations began in March.

Meanwhile, a decorative headpiece believed to be a part of the Buddha image was located on Tuesday, measuring 59cm tall and 20cm wide, and was placed on top of the statue.

As of May 20, as many as 282 Buddha images had been unearthed at the site, where it is believed the city of Souvannakhomkham was once located several hundred years ago, but was subsequently abandoned and became buried in sand.

When the excavations come to an end, provincial authorities plan to build a museum close to the temple in which to display the Buddha images for public viewing.​ - Vientiane Times/ANN

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