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In a Thai Buddhist temple, the "WIHARN" (วิหาร)
is the building where both monks and lay people take part in ceremonials
(พิธีกรรม) such as merit-making ceremonies and sermons
In a Thai Buddhist temple, the "BOT" (โบสถ์) is
the finest building where monks are assembled for religious rites
(สังฆกรรม) such as morning and evening prayers, ordination.
It is the most sacred part of the temple.
The "WIHARN" is a public place for all.
The "BOT" is reserved for monks religious rites.
Normally, the "BOT" is smaller than the "WIHARN".
In big Royal Buddhist temples, several "WIHARN" buildings can be found.
In many smaller temples, there is no "WIHARN" and only a "BOT".
The eight boundary stones ("SIMA" - สีมา)
around the "BOT" indicate that the building has been consecrated and
can be used for monks religious rites.
Any Buddhist religious ceremonies can happen in a
"BOT" only if it has been consecrated. This ceremony is called
"FANG LUUK NIMIT" (ฝังลูกนิมิต).
The building called "BOT" is usually the finest building in
a Thai Buddhist monastery.
Thai "BOT" are often surrounded
by a wall. During the day time, doors are opened. But in the evening,
when rites are finished, "BOT" doors are closed.
Buddha statues are often made of gold. Some greedy people
don't hesitate to steal them. During day time, doors might be closed
in remote temples. Then, if visitors ask the authorization to the
abbot, a monk opens the "BOT" doors.
The inside walls of the "BOT" are often covered with beautiful colorful
paintings. They often represent Buddha's previous lifes
("JAKATA" - ชาดก).
Often the walls, surrounding the
"BOT", contain small niches. Those niches contain the ashes of the
deceased persons. On the external side a plaque indicates the name.
This "BOT" is huge and high. One challenge is to clean those
buildings as pigeons often like to stay in the upper parts.
Pigeons droppings can rapidly damage and tarnish colorful decorations.
Some nets against pigeons and pigeon spikes are often set up in order to prevent
pigeons to niche in the upper parts.
Both the "BOT" and the "WIHARN" contain a presiding Buddha
image and usually several smaller attendant statues. Some statues are so
well known that Thai people come from far away in order to worship them.
In Thailand, there are more Buddha statues than inhabitants (60 Millions).
Buddha statues follow a precise set of positions. These positions have not
changed since centuries.
The highest worshipped Buddha in Thailand is the
Emerald Buddha in the Royal temple "WAT PHRA KAEW"
(วัดพระแก้ว) in Bangkok. The largest one can be found
in "WAT PO" (วัดโพธิ์) in Bangkok.
Some statues are supposed to answer to wishes and to possess exceptional spiritual powers.
The "BOT" may contain the most sacred Buddha sculpture. It is often closed
when not in use. The building may be quite small and tucked away in a corner.
The roof of the "BOT" is often made of red tiles. The number of
stack of roofs are always odd ( 3, 5, 7, 9 ). Odd number are supposed
to be lucky. "CHO FA" (ช่อฟ้า) are
elongated and elaborately carved apex of the gable of a Buddhist temple. It is
believed to represent the mythical Garuda.
To ward off bad spirits, there are monster figures
guarding doorways. Those figures can be Nagas, Singhas, Kinnari, Hongse.
The Hongse (หงส์) is a mythical swan-like creature,
the mount of the god Brahma. It is often seen as a decoration for ornamental gates
or standing on a tall pole in front of the "WIHARN".
In front of the "BOT" entrance, there are often "NAGA"
(นาค). Naga was the
serpent, which did protect Buddha when he was meditating. Sometimes Buddhist
deities or lotus are built instead of "NAGA".
In front of the "BOT" entrance, there are often lions ("SINGHAS" -
สิงห์) statues. They represent strength and power. They are usually
depicted with mouth half open.
In Buddhist temple "WAT PHO" (วัดโพธิ์) located in
Bangkok, the guardians of the temple are stone statues coming from China and
representing Chinese characters or animals. The statues arrived to Bangkok a
century ago by boat. They were used to fill empty Thai boats coming back from
China after having delivered rice.
Sometimes in front the "BOT" entrance, there is a couple of "YAK"
(ยักข์), which are huge statues representing giants with
big teeth. Those "YAK" are supposed to scare the spirits or demons, which
would like to enter the "BOT".
Huge statues of giants called "YAK"
(ยักษ์) stand in front of temples.
They intend to frighten the spirits and to protect the Buddha statues from
The most famous "YAK" statues in Thailand are located in
the Royal temple "WAT PHRA KAEW" (วัดพระแก้ว)
in Bangkok. This temple contains the famous Emerald Buddha statue made of jade.
It is said that the jade is coming from a mountain where
"YAK" are supposed to have been living long
ago. It is a rare case where the "YAK" are facing the temple inner.
This "YAK" statue is very small and he is sleeping also!
Hopefully he can still frighten the evil spirits!
A garland is preventing this lion statue to see anything!
Hopefully he can still hear the evil spirits!