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Buddhist Ordination at Wat Hat Siao

During a spectacular celebration in Ban Hat Sieow in Amphoe Sri Satchanalai, Sukhothai, young Buddhist ordination devotees dressed in elaborate costumes mounted on the backs of beautifully-decorated elephants to Wat Hat Siao (Temple) for a mass ordination ceremony, each April 7 & 8.


The tradition of setting Buddhist novices atop Thai elephants are borne to the temple, in a procession  of some twenty to thirty elephants around the old village. The inspiration comes from the legend of Vessandorn (an incarnation of Buddha) in the Buddhist sutras. On the day Phra Nang Phutsadi gave birth to Vessandorn, Patchainakhen, the auspicious elephant, came into Chetudon, ensuring sufficient rain during the annual rainy season.

This legend known well in the rural village of Hat Siao, where elephants historically were raised and trained to be used in the harvesting of timber and to haul logs in Phrae and Lampang. The elephant traditional only got to rest from work in April due to the heat, coinciding with the ordination festivities, and are enlisted in the merit-making ordination procession. When the procession ends at Wat Hat Siao, Pho Thao (old man) helps the novices from their mounts and leads them to worship and be ordained at the spirit shrine on temple grounds.

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