Buddhism is a religion to millions of people around the world. It predominantly means a path of practice and a way to spiritual progression. Its meaning sometimes goes beyond religion and is by and large considered to be a philosophy or a way of life. Its elementary purpose is to understand the meaning of life and develop wisdom. Meditation is the most significant practice in Buddhism to bring change to oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness and kindness. Theravada Buddhism happens to be the national religion of Thailand.
The Elephant Festival:
One of the most important festivals of Buddhism, the Elephant festival is an extremely joyful festival. This festival is more popular amongst the Thai Buddhists. This festivity is a way of honouring and paying tribute to one of the most loved animals in Buddhism, elephant. The historical significance of this festival lies with the fact that, the Buddha used the example of a wild elephant which, when gets caught, is harnessed to be made docile. The significance drawn out of this notion is that a new monk should have good relations with the older monks in order to grasp the Buddhist philosophies thoroughly. The older monks too need to be very interactive and guiding the young ones to help them understand and deduce the axioms of Buddhism. This festival too celebrates the exchange of knowledge and insight.
The elephant festival is celebrated on the 3rd Saturday in the month of November. It has been celebrated since 1960. It is also called Surin Elephant Round Up. It is celebrated magnificently. At the beginning about 200 elephants are brought together and start marching through the Surin city from the railway station to the elephant roundabout. The elephants are served with a sumptuous breakfast, which mainly consists of fruits. Next,these giant creatures perform various tricks to entertain the mob. These animals show their skills and strength. They demonstrate football and tugs of war. They also carry the officials and dignitaries and sometimes, even tourists, in the battle outfits of the Thai war. It draws a large number of crowd bearing both foreigners and natives. After this, the show begins, in which the battles of the past century are re-enacted. The performance of the animals is finally followed by the folk dances and other cultural programmes. Children and elderly people dress in a traditional way. They carry out various kinds of dance and music in order to delight the throng.
Place of Celebration:
The Elephant festival is mainly celebrated in Thailand’s Surin province, Isan. People also visit the North-eastern side of Thailand to visit ancient places and temples. It continues for two days and it is one of the liveliest festivals of Buddhism. It is a unique way to celebrate Thailand’s archaic history.