Home   Blog   Classes   Trips   More   back

Posts Tagged ‘temple’

Temple Saying (Wednesday Photo)

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Temple Saying

Temple Sign in Chiang Mai

Temple Sign in Chiang Mai

Sayings such as this one are often found on the grounds of many temples and forest monasteries in Thailand. They are meant to cause the reader to reflect outside of the ordinary cares of life.

I particularly like this one. It puts our daily upsets and concerns in a different perspective: after all, in 100 years no one will know a thing about them. Cut yourself some slack!

For more on Thai Buddhism read Buddhism, Thailand, Achaan Chah or Buddha Images in Northeastern Thailand.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture  each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Ramakien Mural (Wednesday Photo)

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Monkey Warrior

Grand Palace Mural

Grand Palace Mural

At temples I enjoy looking at the murals and the details on the buildings. One of the “must see” sights in Bangkok is the Grand Palace and, in particular, the temple of the Emerald Buddha. Around the temple is a covered walkway that is painted with murals from the Ramakien, which is the Thai version of the Indian epic, the Ramayana.

This particular portion appears to be one of the monkey warriors, perhaps Hanuman (the monkey god) himself, absconding with the head of one of the demon warriors.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture  each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Doi Suthep Buddha (Wednesday Photo)

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Buddha Statue at Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep Budda

Doi Suthep Budda

Kasma says that there’s a Thai saying to the effect that anyone who goes to Chiang Mai and does not visit the temple Doi Suthep has not visited Chiang Mai. Situated on a hill, you must climb numerous steps to reach the temple grounds, though there’s a skytrain if you don’t want to walk up.

This is a Buddha statue found in the main temple area at Doi Suthep – you can see the tall Chedi (the Thai word for stupa) in the background to the left.

I enjoy going to temples and enjoy the numerous representations of the Buddha. Many of them give you a glimpse of the peacefulness allegedly available to one who understands the nature of reality.

See also: Buddhism, Thailand, Aachan Chah.

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture  each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Thai New Year

Kasma Loha-unchit, Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Another New Year to Celebrate

While most Americans have long settled into the new year, there is a group of us Southeast Asians yet to celebrate our traditional New Year. The Hindu-Buddhist cultures of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand are gearing up for our approaching grand celebrations on April 13, 14 and 15.

Offerings at a Temple

Offerings at a Temple

This is a festive time of year, full of merriment and close family reunions. Young people visit elders, bearing gifts and scented water to anoint their hands in gestures of reverence. In return, they receive blessings and words of wisdom. Families gather and all take part in preparing elaborate offerings of food and flowers to present to monks in the temples in colorful merit-making ceremonies. Sacred Buddha images are brought out from their places in the chapels, ceremonially bathed and paraded among the people.

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

Thais Worshipping

Thais Worshipping

In the countryside, the New Year gives young men and women the opportunity to meet and play games together, usually in groups. They sing and dance traditional folk songs and dances. It is a time of courting and jestful playing. Being that this is the hottest time of year, water is thrown about at one another, both to cool off and as symbolic acts of bestowing blessings. It is a day when people dress in their finest, yet laugh and cheer as they get drenched by water coming from all those around them. 

Sticky Rice Snacks

Sticky Rice Snacks

Food stalls crowd temple and fair grounds with an extraordinary array of snack foods and sweetmeats to tempt every palate, while at home, extended families cook together exquisite feasts of seemingly endless courses. Special new year foods vary from region to region and country to country. In the heart of Thailand scorched by heat, a traditional food consists of a special rice, pounded and winnowed seven times before it is cooked, after which it is sifted into cold water, strained through seven layers of thin cloth, and finally soaked in cold water in an incensed earthenware pot and sprinkled with jasmine flowers. The scented rice is served with an assortment of dainty side dishes and condiments. 

Sticky Rice with Mango

Sticky Rice with Mango

For most cultures, the New Year would not be complete without its luxuriant spread of delectable sweetmeats. Some are delicately wrapped in banana, bamboo and pandan leaves in packages of varying shapes and sizes. A log-shaped bundle holds sticky rice stuffed with banana and a few grains of black beans, while a miniature bamboo leaf-wrapped pyramid hides a gooey rice confection, and so on and so forth. 

For me, all the abundance the New Year brings does not overshadow the glory of the hot season’s favorite treat – luscious ripe mangoes served with creamy coconut-flavored sticky rice (also called sweet rice or glutinous rice). Though eaten throughout the mango season from March through May, the golden color, sweetness and fragrance of the heavenly fruits are hard to beat as symbols of prosperity, especially when paired with the rich taste of the rice, a grain that reflects the fertility of the land. Furthermore, it is easy to make and the ingredients readily available from Asian markets in the Bay Area.

Coconut-Flavored Sweet Rice with Mangoes Recipe

(Our website has a slightly different version of this recipe. Our recipe index contains many more dessert recipes, including one for Black Sticky Rice Pudding.)

  • 2 cups long-grain white sweet rice or glutinous rice
  • 2 cups, or 1 can, unsweetened creamy coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1-2 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced

Rinse the rice, then cover with tap water 2-3 inches above the rice line and soakfour hours, or overnight. The rice will absorb much of the water, grow in size and soften, such that the grains easily break apart if pressed between the fingers.

Drain and spread grains loosely in a shallow heat-proof dish. Place on a steamer rack and steam dry (without water added to the rice) over a pot with at least two inches of water on the bottom. Steam over medium heat for half an hour, or until the grains are translucent, cooked through but chewy. Or you can use a stacked steamer.

Sticky Rice Steaming Basket

Cooking Apparatus for Sticky Rice

If you are making a large quantity, in order to cook the grains evenly, use the special woven bamboo, cone-shaped basket for steaming glutinous rice, which fits on the companion spitoon-shaped pot with a collar to hold the basket in place. Fill pot with water to a level at least 2 inches below the bottom of the basket, and the basket with the pre-soaked rice. Cover with any round lid that fits an inch or more over the rice level. The basket-and-pot set is available from Southeast Asian markets. Alternatively, a straw or wire mesh colander that fits inside a steamer pot works well as a substitute. Avoid steaming the rice on top of a piece of cloth lining a steamer rack as any moisture the cloth absorbs may turn the bottom layer of grains into mush rather than cooking them in whole grains.

While the rice is steaming, prepare the coconut sauce by heating the coconut milk, sugar and salt together in a saucepan. Warm the milk until the mixture is well blended and smooth.

Mix the cooked rice while it is hot out of the steamer with half the coconut sauce. Stir well with a spoon to coat all the grains evenly. The rice should be moist but not swimming with sauce. Add more of the sauce if needed, reserving the remainder for topping the rice before serving. Let sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the grains to absorb the sauce.

When ready to serve, dish onto individual serving plates, dribble a small amount of reserved coconut sauce over each portion and arrange mango slices over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Written by Kasma Loha-unchit, April 2009.