Thai people like to welcome in a new period of their life by visiting sacred places and making an offering so as to create merit for their future.
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Making Merit at Nine Temples
In Thailand it is a commonly held belief that certain numbers are luckier than others. The most auspicious of all numbers is nine. This is because it is pronounced as gao, and it sounds similar to the Thai word gaao which means to step. This idea is extended further so that the number nine is associated with the word gaao naa which means to step forward or to progress. Another reason for why nine is considered so important is that it is a multiple of three (another lucky number in Thailand).
It is common for Thai people to visit a temple on special days like Songkran. During these trips they can make merit by leaving flowers and incense, offering donations, and by bringing their attention to the spiritual side of life. This will give them good luck for the future. Those individuals who wish to enjoy particular good fortune in the future can choose to go on a pilgrimage of nine temples in one day.
Nine Temple Merit Making in Phuket
When people are going on a nine temple merit making pilgrimage there is no set schedule that they have to follow. A suggested itinerary for those who wish to try this in Phuket would include:
Wat Putta Mongkon
Wat Putta Mongkon (Wat Klang) is right in the heart of Phuket Town so it is a handy place to begin a nine temple merit making tour. This is one of the largest temples on the island, and it is also one of the most beautiful. Wat Putta Mongkon a working temple, and this means that it can be a hive of activity during the day.
Ju Tui Shrine
Ju Tui is an important Chinese shrine in Phuket Town. This is a place of worship for both Taoists and Chinese Buddhists. It is located on Ranong Road where the old market used to be. This shrine is a focal point during the vegetarian festival when thousands of people will come to make merit.
Wat Khao Rang
Wat Khao Rang can be found on a hillside in Phuket Town (Khao Rang) on Soi Wachira. The lane leading to the temple can be hard to find so it is best to ask for directions from one of the locals. Wat Khao Rang is famous for its golden sitting Buddha statue.
Wat Chalong is the most popular and largest temple on the island. It is located approximately 8 km outside of Phuket Town near to Chalong – on the same road as Central Festival shopping mall. It is believed that fragments of bones from the Buddha are contained in the main tower of the temple complex.
The Big Buddha monument is located in the hills between Chalong and Kata, and it is one of the most famous landmarks on the island. There is actually more than one statue of the Buddha to be found in this location, but the largest one is made of marble and it stands at 45 meters high. The money for this temple has all come from donations, and it has become an important place on Phuket for making merit.
Wat Suwan Khiri Khet
Wat Suwan Khiri Khet can be found to the north of Karon Beach on Patak Road. Even though this temple is near to one of the main tourist areas on the island it doesn’t tend to get that many visitors. This is a shame because there are some beautiful statues inside including a black Buddha image. For some reason there is also a statue of the Hindu goddess Kali on the premises.
Wat Phra Nang Sang
Wat Phra Nang Sang is located close to the center of Thalang Town. The grounds were once used as a Burmese military camp. This temple contains some of the oldest Buddhist artifacts in Phuket, but one of the most fascinating attractions is a mummified monk.
Wat Sri Sunthon
Wat Sri Sunthon can be found to the south of Thalang Town. The centerpiece of this temple is a stunning reclining Buddha – this can be found on the roof of one of the main buildings. Wat Sri Sunthon doesn’t get many foreign visitors so a trip here can be a way to get off the beaten track.
Wat Phra Thong
Wat Phra Thong (Golden Buddha Temple) is located in the center of the island not far from Thalang. There is a legend that this temple was built in a location where a golden Buddha statue was found by local boy who was herding buffalo. This temple is most notable for its beautiful half Buddha image.