Buddhist monk Phramaha Weraphony Ritchumnong will be attending the Thai Songkran Festival at the Lismore showground this weekend. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Buddhist monk Phramaha Weraphony Ritchumnong will be attending the Thai Songkran Festival at the Lismore showground this weekend. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

A splash of acceptance at Songkran Day in Lismore

LISMORE is set to become the ‘land of smiles’ on Sunday.

Anyone looking for an antidote to the materialism and dissatisfaction of modern life, could do worse than be revitalised by the water blessings at Thai New Year Festival, Songkran.

The 90-strong Northern Rivers Thai Community Association, will host the iconic water festival at the Lismore Showground.

Celebrated in Thailand, during the hottest part of the year, the splashing of water —the element which connects all life – both connects and calms.

The Buddhist Songkran celebration culminates in young people conveying their best wishes to their elders by pouring water onto their palms. After this, it’s an all-out water fight and folk dance party.

Modanville monk Phramaha Weraphong, who came to Australia in 2009, and invited to be part of the Bodhi Forest Monastery at Tullera in 2015, explained why Lismore is so embracing of Buddhist culture.

“In this area people are close to nature. That is why they have an open mind to accept yoga and meditation.”

“But while people in this area are very peaceful inside, the suicide rates in this area is very high,” he said.

Acceptance and gratitude is key to healing, said Petcharat Moss, a Thai-born Woodburn mother of four.

“People here tend to have an alternative mind, and not to depend on too much materialism. They want to be one with nature. They know at the end of the day, you can’t take anything with you. Even your body. Ageing is a path of growing and learning. The more we grow older, the more we understand acceptance,” she said.

Central to Songkran Day is the sharing of wisdom and kind blessings between young and old.

Monk Phramaha Weraphong, explained, “You can live to 120. You just have to accept and let go. Sometimes we hang on too much.”

“You just have to ask, what can I do to make it better? You have to take personal responsibility.”

“My mother and father went away when I was nine years old. When I finished primary school my grandmother took me to the temple to become a monk.”

My grandmother thought, outside the world, it’s very dangerous. If you have no mother or father to protect you, it is safe in the temple. The rule is strong. You must not go outside the walls, “ he said.

“Songkran is a way for the Thai community to show our gratitude to the Northern Rivers community for embracing us.

“It’s a chance for us to come together. And see our smiles. Thailand is known as the land of smiles because it’s all about acceptance and letting go and taking responsibility for your happiness and the happiness of others,” he said.

Songkran Day 2016

Lismore Showground, Alexandria Parade, North Lismore

SCHEDULE

10AM: Assembly of all Buddhists and friends at the plaza

10:30: Religious and spiritual ceremonies

11: Lunch

12PM: Water blessing

12.30: Cultural shows and water fight

3.30: Finish



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