His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on Sunday, May 12, was delegated by His Majesty the King to represent him at the state ceremony of Phuetchamonkhon Jarod Phranangkan Raek Na Khwan (พืชมงคลจรดพระนังคัลแรกนาขวัญ), better known to foreigners as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony.
The Sunday ceremony which preceeded the actual royal ploughing ceremony on Monday, May 13, saw His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, accompanied by HRH Princess Srirasmi, the royal consort, proceed to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace, where he lighted candles and incense stick to pay homage to the principal Buddha image and the statutes of King Rama I and II.This was followed by chanting of Buddhist scriptures by a chapter of high-ranking Buddhist monks. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince then sprinkled lustral water on and presented flower offering to the Buddha image of Phra Patimachaiwat Phra Buddha Khantararat (พระปฏิมาชัยวัฒน์ พระพุทธคันธารราษฎร์). His Royal Highness also sprinkled lustral water and scattered flowers on agricultural produce laid before the altar, praying for the fertility of crops in the kingdom of Thailand.
Then, Phra Rajakhru Phithi Sivisuthikhun (พระราชครูพิธีศรีวิสุทธิคุณ), the ceremonial head of Brahmins, read out this year’s court announcement on the State Ceremony of Fertility of Crops, followed by chanting of prayers by 11 Buddhist monks. After the religious rite, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince anointed Phraya Raek Na, or Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony, at his forehead and presented him with a royal ring and a goad in gesture of delegating him the power to perform the ploughing ceremony. This year, Phraya Raek Na is held by Permanent Secretary of State for Agriculture and Cooperatives Mr. Chavalit Chookajorn. His Royal Highness later anointed the forehead of the four ‘celestial maidens’ who will carry gold and silver baskets of rice on the ploughing day. The anointment was carried out amidst Buddhist chanting and sound of gongs and accompanying musical instrument.
The royal ploughing ceremony is scheduled in the sixth lunar month every year. It is carried out according to the ancient Sukhothai tradition of inaugurating the planting season, aimed at ensuring good crops. As Thailand is an agricultural country, this ceremony inspires confidence in the farmers, removing fears with regard to unseen natural disasters that lie ahead.
The royal ploughing ceremony consists of two parts. The first one is based on a religious rite performed on the eve of the ploughing day in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The second part is of Brahman origin, taking place on the following day at the Sanam Luang ceremonial ground.