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THAI TEMPLES

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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".

Bot
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).

Bot
Bot
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 non Buddhist 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.

Bot
Bot
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.

Bot
Bot
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.
Bot
Bot
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 possess exceptional spiritual powers.

Bot
Bot
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.
Roof
Roof
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.

Hongse in Chiang Khan
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".
Naga
Naga
In front of the "BOT" entrance, there are often "Naga" (นาค). Naga was the serpent who did protect Buddha when he was meditating. Sometimes Buddhist deities or lotus are built instead of "NAGA".
Singhas
Singhas
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.
Chinese guard
Chinese guard
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 arrive to Bangkok a century ago by boat. They were used to fill empty Thai boats coming back from China after having delivered rice.
Yak
Yak
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 protect the Buddha statues from the spirits.

Wat Prae Kaew in Bangkok
Wat Prae Kaew in Bangkok
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.
Yak
Yak
This "YAK" statue is very small and he is sleeping also! Hopefully he can still frighten the evil spirits!
Yak
Yak
A garland is preventing this lion statue to see anything! Hopefully he can still frighten the evil spirits!


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