Wat Suthat

Wat Suthat, begun by Rama I and completed by Rama II and Rama III, boasts a wihãan with gilded bronze Buddha images Including Phra Si Sakayamuni, one of the largest surviving Sukhothai bronzes) and colourful jataka murals depicting scenes from the Buddha's life. Wat Suthat Holds a special place in the Thai religion because of its association with Brahman priests who perform important annual ceremonies, such as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May. These priests perform rites at two Hindu shrines near the wát - the Thewa Sathaan (Deva Sthan) across the street to the north-west and the smaller Saan Jao Phitsanu (Vishnu Shrine) to the east. The former contains images of Shiva and Ganesh while the latter is dedicated to Vishnu. The wát holds the rank of Rachavoramahavihan, the highest royal temple grade; the ashes of Rama VIII (Ananda Mahidol, the current king's deceased older brother) are contained in the base of the main Buddha image in Suthat's wihãan.

At the nearby Sao Ching-Cha, the Giant Swing, a spectacular Brahman festival in honour of the Hindu god Shiva used to take place each year until it was stopped during the reign of Rama VII. Participants would swing in ever-heightening arcs in an effort to reach a bag of gold suspended from a 15m bamboo pole - many died trying. The Giant Swing is a block south of the Giant Swing is a block south of the Demo-cracy Monument.


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