Merit-making rituals mark start of New Year
By The Nation
Published on January 2, 2011

Thais across the country attended merit-making rituals seeking good luck for themselves and their families as a propitious start to the New Year yesterday.

In Bangkok, Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra led officials and members of the public to offer food and flowers to 284 Buddhist monks early yesterday at the Lan Khon Muang plaza in front of City Hall.
Sukhumbhand also presided over a ceremony to launch four city trams to transport people free of charge who want to make merit at nine temples - Wat Suthat Thepphawararam, Wat Phra Chetuphon, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Chana Songkhram, Wat Bowon Niwet Ratcha Worawihan, Wat Srakesa Rajavara-mahavihara, Wat Rakung Kosittaram, Wat Arun and Wat Kanlayanamit. The trams will run from 8.30am to 4pm every day until January 9.

There were similar scenes of people attending morning alms and merit-making in other provinces.

In Buri Ram's Chalerm Phrakiat district, some 2,000 people walked up to the historic Phanom Rung Temple to attend merit-making, and sought the blessings of the Hindu God Shiva and other divine beings yesterday, which was New Year's day. This was a revival of a local tradition done 100 years ago.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva made a New Year's wish, summoning the power of the Buddhist Triple Gems and all sacred beings to protect all Thais from harm and for them to be happy, prosperous and healthy and become an important force for the country's development.

Abhisit thanked all Thais for getting through 2010 despite many difficulties and for cooperating with the government. The PM expressed hope that 2011 would see more improvement in economic, social and political aspects than in the past two to three years. He also urged all Thais to follow His Majesty the King's speech on December 5, 2010 to clearly understand and perform their duties to their best, consciously and carefully.