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To Mo Chinese Goddess Festival where the people of southern Thailand, show respect to a goddess that is known throughout Asia.
When: Annually in April
Where: Sungai Kolok district, Narathiwat. Southern Thailand
Thai-Chinese devotees carry a shrine as fire-crackers explode during an annual religious festival at Chao Mae To Mo in the Sungai Kolok district of Thailand’s southern province of Narathiwat on April 29, 2016.
AFP PHOTO / MADAREE TOHLALA
The importance of the Goddess
The goddess is highly revered by local Chinese Thai, residents of the southern provinces, as well as neighbouring Chinese Malaysians. She is known throughout most of Asia by an assortment of names and is commonly known in English as the Goddess of Mercy.
In East Asia there are a number of temples built to her name, and where she is associated with vegetarianism , while in China she is known as Guanyin or Guan Yin, an extremely popular goddess in Chinese folk religion and is worshiped, in many Chinese communities throughout East and South East Asia.
Buddhist version of the Goddess of Mercy
The Goddess in Thailand
Here in Thailand she is mentioned in numerous ancient Buddhist sutras and is known as Kuan Im (กวนอิม), Phra Mae Kuan Im (พระแม่กวนอิม), or Chao Mae Kuan Im (เจ้าแม่กวนอิม). She is also known by the Hmong Hill Tribes of Thailand, as Kab Yeeb.
The Goddess is believed to possess magic powers and is celebrated across the Kingdom, temples revering her can be seen everywhere either as traditional Chinese Temples, in Chinese art and architecture style, or as complimentary figure, within Thai style Buddhist temples and in which Chinese Deities, also are present.
In Thailand and elsewhere in Chinese communities in Asia, including Burma, Vietnam, Japan and Korea you will see images in statue form of the goddess with hundreds, if not thousands of arms out stretched in a circle, these often have eyes in each of these many hands. The thousand arms and hands are a demonstration representing her numerous abilities to assist so many and the thousand eyes, demonstrate equally her ability to see the world, everywhere at once.
Photo by Madaree Tohlala AFP Photo
The Annual Festivities
Every year, on the 23rd day of the third month of the Chinese calendar (around April), a festival is held at the Chao Mae To Mo Shrine, located in Soi Phuthon, Charoen Khet Road, in Su-ngai Kolok sub district, Narathiwat.
This is a time for both merit making and joyful celebrations, with a whole host of activities, including a procession featuring local people from the surrounding provinces and from other countries, bedecked in their local and national costumes, accompanied by Chinese dancing lions, a show of acrobatic stilt walkers and jugglers, plus a long drum procession, and to top it all a barefoot hot-coal-walking event.
This picture taken on April 28, 2016 shows a dancer from Malaysia performing during the annual lion dance festival in the Sungai Kolok district of Thailand’s restive southern province of Narathiwat.
Teams from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Macau took part in the festival. / AFP PHOTO / MADAREE TOHLALA
Before and after the processions the event is also a time for quiet prayer and for asking the local gods and deities for their blessing, on all those that attend.
The shrine is open daily all year round from 8.00 am-6.00 pm.
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