The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is an ancient fertility rite annually held in many Asian countries, including Thailand. The ceremony, occurring on 14th May, officially marks the beginning of the rice growing season. The common name of the Royal Ploughing Ceremony is Raek Na Khwan which literally means the “auspicious beginning of the rice growing season”.
The royal ceremony is called Phra Ratcha Phithi Charot Phra Nangkhan Raek Na Khwan which literally means the “royal ploughing ceremony marking the auspicious beginning of the rice growing season”. Both Buddhist and Hindu Brahmin ceremonies are involved in the Thai festival, where monks from each religion bless the planting. The ceremony is held on the field and public square called “Sanam Luang”, in the centre of Bangkok and in front of the royal palace. The royal planting occurs at the outset of rice-growing season and involves two sacred oxen pulling a decorative plough, while traditionally costumed men accompany and plant rice in the furrow.
The oxen is also fed rice, grass, other foods, and given rice-whiskey to drink. Based on what the oxen choose to eat when given multiple foods to choose from, astrologers then predict if it’s going to be a good rice-growing season ahead. In 1957, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony was declared as a public holiday. It is typically presided over by the reigning monarch, but in recent years it has been overseen by Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn who in now King Rama X. The ceremony focuses on honoring the bond between the King, the government, and the farmers who sustain the country.