Thai New Year Buddhist Ceremony

The biggest event of the year in Thailand has to be Songkran Festival, Thai New Year celebration. Anyone who has been to Thailand during the event must know how crazy it is there. Thai community here in Sydney celebrates its the occasion mildly. Officially, the word Songkran is not used at Thailand Grand Festival 2007 at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour on 15th April. Traditionally, the key element of the event is about water: drizzling light perfume on a Buddha image, pouring water onto elders’ palms and water fight on the streets. It would be very messy and not look good if City of Sydney allowed water to be flushed away during the water crisis in Australia and it is hard to call Songkran without water taking part. A part from that, the organiser, Radio Thailand-Stage Management, tries to keep the community feels at home and interested Sydneysiders get amazed by having a Buddhist ceremony in the morning, stage entertainment in the afternoon and Thai food and craft all day long.

The day begins with the people gathering in front of the Buddha then Buddhist monks arrive and settle on the ceremonial stage. Led by the Master of Ceremony, they pray, chant and meditate. Although they have to strive for meditation in the strong sunny morning.

The Buddha

The Main Buddha Image

The Main Buddha Image

The Monks

Monks and the City

Monks leading the ceremony.

Camera Monk

A monk and a camera man in the Buddhist ceremony. The new Thai Consul-General is in the middle of the frame under the shade of a rainbow camera.

Prayers

Praying monks in the Buddhist ceremony.

Dhamakaya

A monk’s belongings: an alms-bowl and an offering-cloth. The the text in Thai and the graphic is Dhamakaya Foundation. They are a reformed Buddhism movement in Thailand.

The Followers

Pranom Pranom

People during the Buddhist ceremony.

The Offerings

One of the core practices in Theravada Buddhism is about merit-making and giving seems to be the easiest way for lay people to achieve the sake of next life. After the meditation session, the monks come off the stage to the people and grant them the chance to give their offerings.

Packaging

Food prepared as the offerings to the monks.

Interacting

The joy of give and take.

Collecting

Piles of food that has been offered to the monks.

The Worship

The morning ceremony is over. Some Buddhist traditions are in service in the afternoon.

Two Buddhas

After the Buddhist ceremony, the main Buddha image is moved inside Tumbalong Park.

Buddha Bath

Thai New Year tradition, bathing a Buddha image.

Revere

The main Buddha image for the crowd to come over and pay respect.

Thai community is one of many ethnic groups in the multicultural Sydney. The religious ceremony plays the essential role in the event and in reflecting their identity. The other parts are entertainments and socialising which we will be looking at them in the next post.

‘Pong

Changes

Walking on Pyrmont Bridge in light rain this morning and thinking how beautiful Sydney is. This scene will be familiar to me instead of Circular Quay and Opera House. New restaurant I supervise will be open in Darling Harbour soon. Hopefully, I don’t let it soak up my time and energy to pursue my passion of photography which I begin to see the light.

The Mardi Gras: the Slide Show Award Night

Barred

What a night! I was puzzled when this image won a prize for The Best Use of the Medium of Mardi Gras: the Slide Show, judged by the Photo Critic of Sydney Morning Herald, Robert McFarlane.

The aim of the project is to capture Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras festival events with the photographers’ styles and and creativities. The results of the project are astounding with artistic approach from both group of final year photomedia students from Sydney College of the Arts and Sydney Photobloggers group where I belong to. Other categories go to:

  • Nudzejma Avdic for the Best Used of the Medium (joint winner)
  • Billy Law for the Most Collectible, judged by Dr Dick Quan, an art collector.
  • Orion Mitchell for the Most Publishable, judged by Rex Turnbull, Lino Magazine’s Creative Director
  • Vitek Skoneiczny for the Most Marketable, judged by Damien and Ann, the Marketing Manager and President of
    Mardi Gras.

Winning the great prizes is valued but the real prize I got is to be exposed to Dr Dick Quan, Sydney’s ten most influential art people, on the night. His comments on my works make me think of my relationship to the world which I am struggling to find. The word Outsider comes out a lot lately.

This is very first photographic prize I ever receive. I am flattered and honoured to participate in this project. Thank you Robert McGrath, the Producer of the project, New Mardi Gras, the judges, fellow enthusiastic photographers and, especially, all the punters. I owe you one.

[Update 23/04/2007: A confession. This proves how trashed I was at the Award Night. I got very distracted by The Rowdy Boys at the peak moment and my name was called. With embarrassment, I didn’t even know what award I won. At Lure, I could not concentrate on the conversation. Then I posted the wrong take and mixed up the awards the day after. All are fixed now.]

Paris, Je T’aime

Paris, Je T’aime: Sugar-coated Paris

Paris Je T'aime Poster

Full credits

Thank to the generosity’s of Australian Centre for Photography, I and Stilgherrian have a chance to see an advance screening of Paris Je T’aime. It is an interesting and challenging project—18 different love stories taking places in Paris districts from different directors. We see the diversed lives of the people in the city: lonely Parisians, grieving mother, couples in the edge of their relationship, disadvantage migrants and, of course, clueless tourists.

Nothing is new about a collaboration of directors telling different stories under one theme. The style becomes the genre itself. New York Stories is closest cousin to this film. But to line up 18 shorts together is quite an ambition. It is another hi-concept that could be the problem itself, in other words, there are too many. It is like watching SBS’s SOS with the certain theme on Saturday night but less variety of style.

Despite the big names such as, Gus Van Sant, Gérard Depardieu and Wes Craven, few of them deliver a fresh feeling of love and emotion. No need to talk about each segment, most of them are pretty much the same with the exception of Vincenzo Natali‘s Quartier de la Madeleine, Coen Brothers‘ Tuileries and Alexander Payne‘s 14th arrondissement. What puzzles me the most is the weird and dream-like segment, Christopher Doyle‘s Porte de Choisy which jumps out from all of them. He not only stamps his signature on Kathy Li‘s cinematography, but prove his strong connection to the orient.

After the screening, I have a craving for spicy food. We go to Snakebean Asian Diner on Oxford Street and have Thai late dinner there. Ironically, the food is still a bit too sweet for my taste buds.