As an alternative to celebrate the New Year, temples nationwide offer "cross-year Buddhist prayer" for people who like to attend for good luck, while many others celebrated with friends and loved ones in cities or tourist destinations.
Acting Supreme Patriarch and abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen, Phra Maharajamangkhalajahn, yesterday granted a New Year blessing to the Thai public in rhyme, which in summary wished all to be happy and united.
The revered monk also urged people to practice self-control, seek knowledge, be kind to and unite with one another in society, perform their duties and be loyal so they could succeed, be happy and prosper in life.
Phra Maharajamangkhalajahn also said the Sangha Supreme Council had resolved that Buddhist temples in Thailand and abroad would host "cross-year prayer" last night and early today. Bangkok's Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen and Wat Saket (Golden Mountain), as well as Buddhamonthon Buddhist Park in Nakhon Pathom were centres for such activity in Greater Bangkok.
Elsewhere, provincial head monks' temples would be centres for such mindful activity.
The council also added the full "seven legends" prayer and the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta into the "cross-year prayer" programme for all temples to use, to enhance auspicious omens and help protect people from harm, he explained.
Amulets for the devoted
Many Bangkok temples planned to hand out amulets to participants. Wat Saket in Pom Prap area was due to hand out 100,000 "Luang Por Doungdee" amulets, holy water and talisman cloth, while Wat Thewarat Kunchorn in Dusit planned to hand out "Phra Kring Yai Thewarat" amulets, and Wat Nai Rong in Bangkok Noi was due to hand out "Bia Kae" talismans.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra posted on her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a New Year 2014 message to wish Thais to re-unite and love each other and those with differences of opinion, belief and political ideology to turn to each other and talk to seek peaceful solutions for the country.
She affirmed she would work with determination and patience despite the anti-government protest, vowing to work hard to create unity and reconciliation while also protecting national, religious and monarchy institutions.
She also prayed for the power of the Buddhist Three Gems (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) and the power of Their Majesties the King and Queen to keep the country at peace and to protect all Thais to be safe and healthy and have their wishes fulfilled.
Meanwhile, many opted to usher in the New Year at "countdown party" sites such as Bangkok's Central World Plaza and Asiatique, plus Phuket and Pattaya. Others braved winter chills in the North and Northeast to celebrate amid nature and mountains.
The atmosphere at Chaiyaphum's Phu Lankha National Park, featuring a prehistoric stone garden dubbed "Thailand's Stonehenge", was buzzing with over 20,000 campers setting up tents. It was so crowded many were forced to camp along a one-kilometre stretch of road to the mountaintop camping site.