Tak Bat Devo is a merit making ceremony that takes places across Thailand on the first day of the eleventh waning moon of the year. It’s marks the day that seven years after his Enlightenment, he went up to Tavatimsa heaven, the abode of Indra God, for the rainy season retreat of three months and there he preached her the Abhidhamma Pitaka. On the last day of the retreat as on the first day of the eleventh waning moon in the lunar year the Buddha came down to Earth at the city called Sangkassa, when thousands of people presented food to him and his disciples. For this reason, the first day of the eleventh waning moon is regarded as the Buddha’s day of coming down from the heaven to the human world. So Buddhists make a special effort to give a lot of food to monks and various people in traditional and not so traditional costume. ( Thanks to Thai Ministry of Culture website for that info )
Until this year, the temples on Koh Chang had all organised their own small merit making ceremonies. However, this year – in what proved to be an excellent idea – monks from all the temples n the island descended, not from heaven but from pick up trucks and minivans, on Klong Prao temple. This meant than anyone on the island who wanted to make merit also had to head to Klong Son.
The end result was that at 8am when I headed up to the temple the roads were devoid of traffic. All life was at the temple, people had started arriving before 6am in order to claim a good table, i.e. one at the start of the procession, to place their alms on. People who arrived late ended up at the back of a very long queue. It took well over an hour for the procession to make it’s way past all the people wanting to give food.
No idea how many people were there, but it must have been a couple of thousand or so. The largest gathering of locals I have seen in one place. Plus a handful of tourists and some western guys who had been brought along by their wives to earn a few karma points.