The century-old tradition of Hua Hin’s ‘Blessing of the Fleet’ merit-making ceremony is poised to take place on September 24 at the Chao Mae Tubtim Shrine.
Deeply ingrained in Hua Hin’s maritime culture, the event invites local fishermen and visiting enthusiasts to come together. Not just a celebration of the town’s fishing lineage, the event serves as a symbolic gesture, seeking blessings for a prosperous and safe fishing season ahead.
Attendees and believers converge with aspirations that the ceremony will provide divine protection to the local fishing fleet and their crews, hoping for safety during their maritime ventures and a fruitful catch.
Central to the ceremony’s tradition are the Nong Chuk and Nong Kae stucco dolls. These 2,500 vibrantly colored figurines are available for acquisition through a nominal donation. After obtaining a figurine, participants can inscribe their names or the names of those they wish to pray for, as long as the individual is still living.
For those interested in witnessing the sea of colorful dolls, Hua Hin Temple will have them on display until September 23, from 9am to 2pm.
At the temple, attendees will receive paper for inscribing names, followed by a paper boat to place the chosen dolls. Participants can then make a voluntary donation and place the paper boat, replete with dolls, onto a larger vessel. This vessel will subsequently be transferred to the Chao Mae Tubtim Shrine on the evening of September 23.
The origins of this ceremony are rooted in Hua Hin’s history as a fishing village. A century ago, the village faced a cholera outbreak with limited medical interventions available. Locals turned to spiritual practices, praying for protection and to ward off maladies. The dolls symbolize the living, and the act of floating them away represents the desire to rid oneself or loved ones of life’s challenges and adversities.
As for the schedule on September 24:
- 9 am: The ceremony commences at the Chao Mae Tubtim Shrine, near the Hilton Hotel.
- 10 am: Monks will bestow blessings.
- 11 am: The main ceremony will take place, invoking spirits and deities. Subsequently, the dolls will be taken to boats and set afloat at sea.
Attendees and participants should note that unlike previous years, there will be no street procession this year. The ceremony will exclusively begin and conclude at the Chao Mae Tubtim Shrine.
Residents and visitors are encouraged to witness this event, understanding its deep-seated significance in Hua Hin’s history and culture.