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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 20 – Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 20, Royal Ploughing Ceremony. In Thai, it’s called วันพืชมงคล (wan phûuet-mong-khon).
In this lesson, we’re talking about the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, a traditional ceremony in Thailand held to strengthen the morale of farmers and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the Thai economy. Rice is considered the main economic plant of the country. The date is not fixed for each year, but must fall in May, according to the best date calculated by the royal astrologer.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Which plants are important to the Thai economy?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
One day before the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, a monk ceremony is held. Buddhist monks will perform according to the principles of Buddhism to bless seeds from each plant, or พืช (phûuet), for abundance. There are forty different types of seeds, including the Royal rice which is grown in the palace. These seeds are used as grain in the ceremony the next day and to distribute to farmers and people in each province to boost their morale.
The ceremony is held at Sanam Luang each year. Two steers are invited to plow the land surrounding the area. Seeds, or เมล็ด (má-lét), are thrown around while the steers are plowing. Then, food and drink, including bean, rice, corn, sesame, grass, water, and liquor, are fed to the cows. After the steers eat these items, the royal astrologer predicts the abundance of crops in the future, according to what was eaten. After the ceremony, the general public is allowed to keep the grain sown in the ceremony as a blessing for their next crop, or การเพาะปลูก (gaan pháw bplùuk).
Though this ceremony is only held in Bangkok, other provinces also organize various events for farmers such as the Farmers of the Year award, rice contests for local farmers, an event supporting farmers who lack funding, and a seminar to provide useful knowledge to farmers to prepare for the next planting season.
There is a belief that steers used in the royal ceremony must possess very good characteristics, which include good ears, good eyes, strength, and straight horns. Both bulls, or วัว (wuua), must be of the same color. There are only two colors of steer chosen, namely cotton white and sugar brown. They must also be male and castrated.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Which plants are important to the Thai economy?
There are four major types of plants grown in Thailand, including rice, rubber, tapioca, and sugarcane. Rice is the most grown plant in Thailand and takes only four months to foster a crop. Moreover, Thailand exports most of the sticky rice in the world, making it a very important market in the ASEAN region and in Asia.
So listeners, how did you find this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Are there any rituals which are related to predicting the future in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!