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Two Royal Ceremonies to Underline the Significance of Thai Rice and Farmers

May 9, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

Two royal ceremonies are held in Bangkok each year in May to mark the official opening of the rice-planting season in Thailand. They are the Royal Cultivating Ceremony and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony.


In 2014, the Royal Cultivating Ceremony is scheduled for 8 May and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony for 9 May. Thai farmers consider these ceremonies significant for their agricultural fortune.

The Royal Cultivating Ceremony, or the ceremony for fertility of the crops, takes place at the main chapel of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, starting at 3:00 p.m. This ceremony, a Buddhist one, involves prayers for an abundance of crops. The Royal Cultivating Day has also been designated as National Farmers Day.

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, a Brahmin ritual, is held at Sanam Luang grounds and the auspicious time for ploughing is between 8:09 and 8:39 a.m. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn represents His Majesty the King in presiding over the ceremony.

After the Royal Cultivating Ceremony is performed in the afternoon, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony is carried out in the morning of the following day. In this ceremony, the Lord of the Harvest, who is the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and Cooperatives, leads the procession of the “celestial maidens” and a pair of oxen, while circumambulating across the symbolic ground. Walking along the plough are also white-clad Brahmans blowing conch shells.

The Lord of the Harvest selects one of three pieces of scarlet cloth of varying lengths. His choice predicts the amount of rainfall for the coming planting season. Then the seeds blessed earlier are cast into furrows, from where they are gathered by farmers, who regard them as auspicious and keep them to mix with seeds to be used in cultivating their own fields.

When the ploughing is over, the oxen are presented with seven offerings, namely paddy, hay, corn, sesame, mung bean, water, and liquor. The animals’ first choices serve as means to predict the harvest of the upcoming season.

The staple food of the Thai people, rice has always been the most important crop and is grown in every region of Thailand. Its importance is not only in terms of economic value. Farmers regard growing rice as their food security.

Thailand has been one of the largest rice exporters in the world. It produces about 28 to 30 million metric tonnes of paddy a year, or 20 million tonnes of processed rice. About 17 million Thais, or 3.7 million out of 5.6 farm families in the country, are engaged in rice farming. Rice planting covers an area of about 58 million rai, or 23.2 million acres.

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