Visakha Puja is the full moon month of May, where Buddhists all over the world commemorate the day the Buddha's birth in Lumbini, his full awakening under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, and the final giving up of his body aged 80 in Kusinara, the "parinibbana", the ending of his last life. It has become an in-house tradition at Wat Pah Nanachat to spend the night of Visakha Puja meditating, chanting, and reading out key passages from the Pali Canon in Thai and in English, bringing to mind these three important events in the life of the Buddha.
In 1975 Ajahn Chah established Wat Pah Nanachat (The International Forest Monastery) in order to give young men from foreign countries, who do not know Thai language and culture, the possibility of becoming a well trained Theravadin Buddhist forest monk. The first step to become a monk in Wat Pah Nanachat is to take on the homeless life committing oneself to the Eight Precepts as an "anagarika" (or "pakao", as anagarikas are called in Northeast Thailand), for about half a year. If the resident community feels it is appropriate, an anagarika can the request "pabbaja" - the "Going Forth" as a Buddhist novice, a "Samanera". In addition to the anagarika precepts, a Samenera renounces money and becomes an alms-mendicant, clad in the ochre robes of the Buddhist monastic order, the "Sangha".
Since the beginning of Wat Pah Nanachat, monk and novice ordinations have always been conducted in Wat Nong Pah Pong, Ajahn Chah's main monastery. With Ajahn Kevali having been authorised to lead ordinations for the Wat Pah Nanachat Sangha since January 29, 2018, on April 3rd, 2018, this ceremony of "Going Forth" has been held for the first time at Wat Pah Nanachat. The picture shows the three Pakaos receiving the ochre robes from Ajahn Kevali.
The Wat Nanachat Sangha preparing for "Pabbajja" - the "Going Forth" into becoming a Buddhist novice (Samanera). In the mother monastery Wat Nong Pah Pong this occasion is considered a rather intimate duty of the sangha, accepting and blessing a new community member. Thus the monks usually assemble early in the morning at 3:30 am, avoiding the traditional lay-celebrations, where many times the local villagers crowd the monastery in order to express their joy about a young man going forth with parades, music and dancing performances over many hours. For the foreign monks from countries from all over the world there usually wouldn't be many relatives or friends around and the good-bye from the world often already took place months ago when people initially left their homes and jobs for their new spiritual search heading for asia.
The Walking Buddha-image from the former outside sala is being moved in front of the main Sala
Since the outside sala of Wat Pah Nanachat is being taken down to make space for a new, properly designated Sima-Hall, its main Buddha-image in graceful walking posture has been moved in front of the main sala in a short blessing ceremony on March 22, 2018.
May it kindly greet all visitors entering the sala.
On March 1st, 2018 the community of Wat Pah Nanachat held the traditional circumambulation with candles, flowers and incense, commemorating the concise summary that the Buddha gave of his teachings - the "Ovada Patimokkha" - on the full-moon day of the month Magha, in the Bamboo Grove at Rajagir to a spontaneous gathering of 1250 fully enlightened disciples:
The candle procession took place in the Sima-Stones area around the outside Sala as a last event before the demolition of the outside Sala, which is to give way to a soon to be built properly designated Sima Hall (Bot).
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Ven Ajahn Chah's birth in Bahn Gor village close to Wat Nong Pah Pong, on Jan 12, 2561/2018 Luang Por Liem (Phra Rachabhavanavikrom) and Luang Por Anek (Phrakhru Nikrodthammaphorn) presided over the ceremony of offering and inaugurating the stone pillar that has been erected on the place that Ven Ajahn Chah was born. Many senior western monks and nuns also took part in this auspicious event.
On January 6, 2561/2018 Luang Por Anek Yasadinno (Phrakhru Nikrodthammaphorn) of Wat Pah Sai Ngam enshrined a tooth of Ven Ajahn Chah and some of his shaven hair in the top of the sandstone pillar commemorating Ajahn Chah's place of birth in Bahn Gor Village near Wat Nong Pah Pong. He was assisted by Ajahn Kevali (Phrakhru Ubonbhavanaviteht) while many senior monks lead by Luang Por Liem (Phra Rachabhavanvikrom), gave their blessings by chanting auspicious chants.
On December 31st, 2017 the Sangha and the laypeople of Wat Pah Nanachat gathered in the main Sala to meditate into the new years and chant "parittas", the traditional protective chants as a blessing for the all sentient beings.
ฉลองปีใหม่ ๒๕๖๑ โดยการเจริญพุทธมนต์
วันที่ ๓๑ ธค ๒๕๖๐ คณะสงฆ์ วัดป่านานาชาติ ได้ฉลองปีใหม่โดยการนั่งสมาธิภาวนาและเจริญพุทธมนต์ เป็นศิริมงคลแก่สัตว์ทั้งหลาย ที่ธรรมศาลาวัดป่านานาชาติ
With the generous help and sharing of rice supplies by the farmers of Bung Wai Village (Wat Pah Nanachat's main supporters), and many donors from town, it was possible to donate many tons of rice to the villages around Wat Pah Bahn Jaeng Noi in Yasothorn province, who had been heavily hit by the flooding of the Chee River, that destroyed thousands of acres of rice paddies around the monastery. Tan Ajahn Boonrueang, the abbot of Wat Pah Bahn Jaeng Noi, a disciple of Luang Por Liem helped to coordinate the offering in skilfully choosing some of the worst hit families, schools and village centers.
When travelling across the country, the Sangha of Wat Pah Nanachat usually leaves the monastery early in the morning and then, as it gets light, stops by at a local market place on the road for collecting almsfood. These occasions are usually beautiful expressions of faith of the local villagers that rush out to give food spontaneously when the monks turn up by surprise.
The following photos were taken by our monastery secretary Thirawud Cholasuek (Ton) on August 30, 2017 in Ampher Kueang Nai, Ubon Rachathani Province.
At the beginning of the rains retreat ("pansah") the Sangha of Wat Pah Nanachat goes on a tour to pay respects to senior monks in the area. Usually this includes both the senior monks from the Sangha administration and the forest monks of the Wat Nong Pah Pong group of monasteries. This year started with a special trip to pay respects to the Buddha's chest bone relics enshrined in the Chedi of Phra That Phanom in Nakhorn Phanom, one of the most venerated holy-sites of northeast Thailand and Laos.
At the end of June 2017 Wat Pah Nanachat hosted a temporary novice ordination program with children from various international schools in Bangkok, lead by Ajahn Bhanuwat from Wat Phra Ram Gao (Rama 9th Golden Jubilee Monastery) in Bangkok. The group joined with the regular routine of Wat Pah Nanachat for three days, and received various instructions into sitting and walking meditation, broom-making and various typical activities of forest monks.
After gold-leafing the main Buddha statue "Phra Buddha-Karuna" of Wat Pah Nanachat, a classical ceremonial umbrella to crown the head of the Buddha image was generaously offered to the monastery on April 28, 2017, protecting the image from dust and various droppings from the ceiling, and enhancing the shrine with a warm traditional feel to it.
In April 2017 a group of skilled lay Buddhists experienced in the traditional techniques of gilding Buddha images offered to re-coat the two main Buddha statues of Wat Pah Nanachat with gold leafs. The joint effort took about a week. Initially the old layers of gold and paint were carefully removed, and various irregularities on the statues brass surface were repaired, until a new grounding of an orange lacquer made according to an ancient recipe was applied. This needed to be done under a wide mosquito-net allowing the coating to dry without insects sticking to it. Then, with many calm, helping hands the tiny pieces of gold-leaf were gently rubbed on - square inch by square inch, and neatly polished such that the joints between them became nearly invisible. Finally, on April 10th, 2017, the whole monastic and lay-community of Wat Pah Nanachat gathered in a little ceremony to finish the process together by gilding the top flame of “Phra Buddha-Karuna”, the Buddha statue in the main Sala, using this auspicious opportunity to enshrine Buddha-relics in the head of the statue before putting the flame back up in place