Thaksin celebrates his 60th with a ballad
Mon, Jul 27, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network

About 1,500 well-wishers showed up at the event, hyped up as replete with hi-tech wonders such as the beaming of Thaksin's hologram from Dubai, but it turned out to be low-keyed.

While a slideshow featuring his formal presentation of robes to monks was projected on the screen, Thaksin started his phone-in by belting out the ballad about his fugitive life in exile.

"I thank you for attending my 60th birthday. May the boon from the merit-making ceremony bring you prosperity and happiness and I wish the merit made today will allow me to return home to serve you once again," he said.

Thaksin's sister Yaowapha and her husband Somchai Wongsawat chaired the ceremony, with several political figures in attendance such as Deputy House Speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai, Pheu Thai MPs Udomdet Ratanasathien and Pracha Prasopdee, and Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit.

The rite commenced with 10 monks chanting about overcoming bad karma. Full-sized images of Thaksin were posted in eight directions, with his supporters standing as guards. After the chanting ended, the pictures were pulled off and placed facing north, a symbol of victory.

Later four monks presided over the ceremony designed to exorcise Thaksin from his bad karma.

A senior monk and Somchai joined in wielding a sacred knife to cut loose thorny sala vines, called rakam or suffering in Thai, in a move supposed to signify liberating Thaksin from bad luck.

Throughout the acts of religious symbolism, monks chanted under a black-tiered umbrella blessing the pictures depicting Thaksin shielded by blessed ropes.

The monks also performed the ceremony of receipt of robes for the living as well as the dead. The entire ceremony involved 109 monks.

After banishing Thaksin's bad karma, the monks proceeded to chant over face-up alms bowls, believed to lift the curse from face-down bowls reportedly laid by revered monk Luangta Mahabua.

Following the religious rite, Somchai set cattle free as part of the merit-making. He also placed eight coins in each monk's alms bowl. Eight is believed to be a lucky number for Thaksin, who was born on a Tuesday.

Some 5,000 motorcycle taxis provided free rides for well-wishers, participants and workers to the ceremony.

Many people paid Bt100 for a set of offerings to be placed on a mock coffin, in a show of help for Thaksin to overcome his plight.

As the ceremony drew to a close, the monks made holy water. People rushed to read the candle drippings floating on the water for winning lottery numbers.

After Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in his weekly TV address reminded the birthday boy to come to terms with his fate so he could be happy, Thaksin posted a thank-you note on Twitter for the premier's birthday message.

In several provinces around the country, birthday parties were organised by red-shirted supporters for Thaksin.

In Sing Buri, Pheu Thai MP Payap Panket held a merit-making ceremony with nine monks.

Payap set up a table for his constituents to endorse the petition to ask for a royal pardon for Thaksin.

In Udon Thani, red-shirt co-leader Kwanchai Praipana gave alms to 102 monks to make merit for Thaksin.

He asked about 1,000 well-wishers to sign a birthday card which he said he would personally deliver to Thaksin in Dubai.

In Chiang Mai, red-shirt organisers held a religious ceremony to wish Thaksin a long life at Rong Tham Samakki Temple in San Kamphaeng district, his birthplace.

In Chanthaburi, about 200 red shirts presented robes to monks as part of merit-making.

Somchai said he wanted everyone to focus on the merit-making rather than superstition.

"The countering of bad karma is up to individual belief and should not be anticipated as a fix," he said.

Thaksin's overcoming his problems was not dependent on the symbolic ceremony, he said.

People could decide on their own what they wanted to do on Thaksin's behalf, he said, referring to the petition.

The signature campaign was an expression of the people's feelings toward Thaksin, he said, adding that he had no opinion regarding the legality or appropriateness of seeking royal clemency. -The Nation/ANN

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