1. To pay respect to Lord Buddha and pray for their loved ones:

       This is the reason that attracts most people to the temple. This is called “TamBon” in Thai and when going to the temple most Thai’s will they are going to go TumBun. You will see that when you visit a temple, especially famous temples, when you enter you will see many people holding scented sticks with candles and gold paper to attach on Buddha statues. The belief is that by praying to Lord Buddha and monks, you will receive good karma. The normal ritual when walking into this occasion is that first we will enter the praying grounds with our shoes off as a courtesy of respect. Then the next step is to pick up 3 scented sticks, flowers and one yellow candle to light by the fire that the temple will have prepared for us. Next, is to pray to the Buddha statues and then after we are done, we will bring the scented sticks and lay them in the pot arranged by the temple. When this process is done, it is purely up to you if you also want to pray to a monk of the temple, usually when choosing this choice we will also bring a small gift such as food to present to the monk. The first step in this process is to take your shoes off before entering the grounds where the monk is in, this is a simple manner of paying respect to a higher ground. Next, is to bring to the monk the gifts which the monk will accept by laying a yellow piece of cloth under your gifts, he will then bring in the gifts and will tell you to pick up the small jar of water that will likely be next to you on the ground. He will then start chanting to you as a symbol of handing down good karma from above and the water also represents letting go of the negativity in your life. As he is chanting, what we will do is to to slowly pour the water from the small jar into the small bowl that is used to lay the jar of water when you pick it up, this is called “Kruawd Narm”. After he finishes chanting and you finish pouring the water into the small bowl below, you will take the water and pour it into a plant nearby, this represents letting go and returning to nature. After this is done we then will pay respect one last time to the monk by praying three times to the ground in front of him and leave to other areas of the temples. This is the finished process of a normal day at the temple. The rest of the activities are activities that are solely up to you, some popular activities at the temple is focused on relaxation and winding down from outside life. For example, some people choose to meditate within the temple as it is very peaceful and is considered a land of peace. Some temples will have an area of fishes or a mini playground, this is where the children love to come and play with the other children around the area. There will also be areas within the temples where it is preserved for monks and the people in the temple to stay in. There aren't many limits when it comes to local temples, the area of most temples was built with the good intention for the people to come relax and pray to Lord Buddha and the monks.

 

       2. A place for local ceremonies:

       The temple is often used as a location to celebrate the local ceremonies, this is due to the fact that the temple is a location where everyone in the area knows the location of and is a destination in everybody's heart. For this reason, the temple is where ceremonies are celebrated and most of them are big ceremonies where a lot of food and people will gather together at the same time. A good example of this is the Loy Krathong celebration. This is a celebration where the Thai people will float “Krathong” which is a beautiful floating disc that is made from natural items that is intended to not affect the nature and fishes in the river. The ritual for this celebration is to float the krathong into the river. This celebration is a representation from the Thai people to Mother Earth as an apology to all the bad that goes into the river as a result from us, for example the garbage and the waste from our bodies. This is because in the olden days, before we had toilets and running water. The waste from our bodies would directly be put into the river, also every activity connecting with water would also be done in the river, for example showering and doing our laundry. Before floating the Krathong into the water, we will light scented sticks and place it in the Krathong with some coins as a gratitude, but the practice of inserting money into the Krathong is disappearing as there are many bad people who swim in the river on Loy Krathong day to collect all the money that is on the Krathong. There are also more ceremonies but to give a good understanding, the temple like a middle meeting point where everyone in the area has a mutual respect in.

 

       3. Where funerals are conducted:

       The temple is where 90% of the funerals are held in, this is due to the reason that because most Thais are buddhists, they believe in having a funeral in the Thai Buddhist way. When going to a funeral in the temple, the feeling and intention is the opposite of what a normal day at the temple will be like. For example, when going for a normal day at the temple the main idea is for good Karma and to pay respect to Lord Buddha and the monks in the temple. But, for a funeral, the intention is to go say goodbye to the person’s funeral and to pay respect with condolences to the family of the dead. A normal ritual of attending a funeral at the temple would include first, going in front of the coffin and lighting up only one scented stick, then say what you would want the dead to know, when you are done, you can stick the scented candle to the pot in front of you. One of the things you can do, and this is not a must, it is totally up to you on whether you want to and how close you were to the person that has passed away, this is to knock on the coffin three times and talk through the coffin to the body. This is believed by some to be the last communication to have with the passed away. Then after you finish, you can go to the family and pay our condolences to the passing away of the beloved member of the family.

 All of these 3 activities are what most Thai people will do at the temple, but it is surely not all, there are many more activities that can be done in the temple and they all hold a special meaning to the Thai hearts. Buddhism is a beautiful religion and it is presented through many aspects in Thailand including the activities done within the temple grounds.