Royal Ploughing Ceremony heralds start of rice growing season in Thailand

Ancient rituals conducted at a royal ceremony in Bangkok today indicate the forthcoming rice-growing season will be a good one for Thailand. Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the Royal Ploughing Day rites at the city’s Sanam Luang Park this morning.

Thirapat Prayoonsit is a secretary at the Thai Agriculture Ministry and was the master of ceremonies. The new monarch watched intently as the MC chose from various fabrics presented to him on a tray. This rite was followed by another in which a pair of white oxen were presented with various bowls of food and drink to choose from.

Brahmin soothsayers analysed the selections made by the master of ceremonies and the oxen and forecast there would be enough rain which would in turn ensure a good rice harvest. The fortune-tellers said the selections of rice, grass and maize showed there would be plenty of food for Thai people over the coming year too.

As part of the proceedings, the oxen carried out a symbolic ploughing and rice seeds were strewn into the furrows made by the ploughs. Afterwards, rice seeds were scattered in the wind and were picked up by onlookers. The seeds are considered to bring good fortune when growing rice.

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is a Hindu based rite. In Thailand, it is believed to have been inaugurated during the reign of the Sukhothai kings 700 years ago. In modern times, Royal Ploughing Day is usually staged in May, but the exact date is determined by Brahmin priests each year.