On 9 July, the Bureau of Crown Property organized a ceremony of worshipping throne halls and trees at the Maruekhathayawan summer palace in Cha-Am, Perchaburi. Having been held for the 5th time to foster highly-revered royal tradition of the Chakri dynasty, this event was presided over by Khunying Sermsri Bunnag and attended by over 100 distinguished guests.
The ceremony included traditional styles of trees worshipping which usually takes place before the Buddhist Lent. Performed by civil servants of the Grand Palace, it aims to ask for forgiveness to every plant and tree inside the compound and worship Hindu gods and angels including the Brahma so that an insult, either intentional or unintentional ones, done to them will be lifted.
Worshipping the gods is usually done before lunchtime of Buddhist monks at 11 a.m. on the waxing moon day. All worshippers are mostly females because the civil servants in the Grand Palace are women. Trees will be worshipped after the gods. Offerings in the ceremony consist of food, such as a boiled pig head, boiled duck, chicken, fish, steamed prawn, boiled crab and egg, and desserts, namely 8 Thai sweets of which the name is believed by Thais to bring them prosperity and good luck.
According to Khunying Sermsri, trees worshipping begins with trimming trees. It is not held in the rainy season because people may slip and fall off the tree. Moreover, trees that are trimmed will be easily infected by germs due to the rain. If taking place in the palace, there will be doors worshipping because Thais believe that gods and Mother Earth live in the door, most of which are made of wood.
At the Maruekhathayawan summer palace, a big banyan was worshipped there. Starting at 9 a.m., the ceremony had the chair chant a spell of auspice to pay homage to the throne halls. Then, the participants lit candles and incenses to ask for forgiveness to all the trees there before doing meditation. Afterwards, small money bags will be tied with trees there. The donation will be used for renovation of the palace by the Maruekhathayawan Foundation.
The special representative of the Bureau of Crown Property Mr. Pipatpong Isarasena Na Ayudhaya said that the ceremony took place every year and tourists could take part in it. It will help promote tourism in Cha-Am as the city is well-known among foreign visitors.
The Maruekhathayawan summer palace boasts a lot of big trees inside its 80-Rai compound, such as papal, banyan, ebony, tamarind among others. Some trees are older than the palace itself. No exotic plants are selected to grow here for fear of unknown diseases.
Mr. Pipatpong also added that the palace was ideally located by the beach and its architecture fit well with its surrounding. In particular, the cement base of the palace has some space through which wind can pass and dry the damp underneath. Formerly, border patrol police who used the palace as their headquarters unintentionally covered the space, causing wooden pillars to crumble. This needed serious renovation for quite a while.
The Maruekhathayawan Foundation has also cooperated with the Development Center of Huay Sai Tai to conduct research the surrounding area and found too much sandy loam. To modify the area, they used rain tree leaves as fertilizer and ploughed and filled up the ground with smooth crotalaria before covering it with vetiver. The process takes 3 or 4 years until the root of vetiver pierces into the ground for a couple of meters. This will prevent salt water to seep into the ground again.
The ceremony also has traditional music performances by Thai youths and selling of products from the palace, especially the Sampanny Thai sweets of which the color is made from plants at the palace. Visitors can buy silver or gold money bags to worship the trees there as well.
This ceremony is held every year and interested people can join for free.