Date 06/08/2015

SART DAY



SART DAY

Translated by Mr. Thanapol(Lamduan) Chadchaidee and Mr. Marco Roncarati
 
Meaning
The Thai Sart Day refers to merit-making activities in the middle of the old traditional Thai year, and if counted by the lunar calendar, falls on the fifteenth day of the waning moon of the tenth lunar month (usually some time during September).
Background
The word "Sart” is derived from the Indian language, Pali, and means "season”, while in English it means "autumn”. In fact, the season of Sart or the autumn is a time in which food crops begin to ripen.
 
However, autumn takes place only in countries which are situated above the tropical zone, such as the countries in Northern Europe, China and the northern part of India. Thus, due to Thailand’s geographical location in the ripening and only some fruits are mature enough to be eaten. Meanwhile, the countries which have the season of autumn take this time to celebrate the occasion joyfully as their crops bear their first yield and a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables are in bountiful supply.
In ancient times, people of all races believes that the first harvest of rice, fruit and all other forms of food, including the first catch of fish or any other animal, should be offered to the holy spirits which, they believed, were the creators of food crops and animals. As a result, by appeasing the spirits, in theory the people were protected from starvation. However, during years in which there were bad harvests or food shortages, they believed that this was caused by indignation of the holy spirits who might have been angry with human actions. Therefore, ancient people were very much afraid of these invisible beings and to please them, people made offerings and sacrifices in their honour.
In Southern India, people perform a ceremony of boiling rice with milk to make sweets, known as "holy rice”, to be offered to the God Ganesh. The ceremony is usually performed in January, which is their harvest season, and, at the end of the offering ceremony, a joyful celebration will be held. Meanwhile, in Europe there is a similar ceremony known as the "Harvest Thanksgiving Day” and sometimes a beautiful girl will be elected as "Harvest Queen” who may represent the Goddess of Grain.
Phraya Anuman Rajadhon, a well-known Thai scholar, explained the Sart Festival in his poem which can be summarised as follows:
"In the tenth lunar month, we met on Sart Day. We put food, fruits, Krayasart and dainty bananas on the tray. All villagers dressed themselves in beautiful colours, held a long-handled ladle with their heads bending down as a gesture of respect, then picked up an assortment of food and Krayasart to be put in the monks’ alms-bowls. They then retired to their homers.”
The poem has been mentioned in order to remind us of our valuable tradition held at the end of the tenth lunar month. At this time, the villagers would bring food, Krayasart and dainty bananas to be offered to the monks at the local temple and Krayasart is easily available in the market and out of the festive season. Furthermore, making it can become a small business and thus people need not waste their time preparing dry food anymore.
Krayasart, which means food for the Sart Rite, is prepared from rice, beans, sesame and sugar cooked into a sticky paste and then wrapped with a banana leaf. After making Krayasart, people would take it to the temple to be offered to the monks on Sart Day. At the temple, a raised-platform would be erected in a long line on the temple grounds and the monk’s alms-bowls would be placed on it, People would then put Krayasart in the alms-bowls till they were full of Krayasart. Then the Krayasart would be transferred into a bamboo-basket by the temple boys. At the same time, food and dessert would be separately offered to the monks at their lodging. At the end of the offering ceremony, people would perform a ceremony of pouring water in dedication, in order to transfer merit to other beings, as people believed that if they did not offer Krayasart to monks, their dead relatives would have nothing to eat, and, thus, they would be condemned as having no gratitude towards their benefactors.
After finishing their meals, the monks would consume Krayasart as their dessert, since on that day people had nothing to offer apart from ripe dainty bananas and Krayasart. Naturally Krayasart is very sweet, thus it is recommended to be eaten with bananas, especially dainty bananas. After making merit, people would exchange the remaining Krayasart among themselves. In so doing, they could have the opportunity to test Krayasart cooked by others. As a result, anyone whose Krayasart had an excellent taste would have his good name spread from month-to-mouth.
In those days, people preferred to prepare Krayasart by themselves and it was not available in the market. Thus, when one made something to eat, he would give it generously to his neighbours. Above all, if someone had work which required a huge amount of labour, his neighbours would come forward to help at once. This brought about unity and strengthened friendship among local residents.
 
The focal point of the community was the Buddhist temple, which symbolised the Buddhist religion and acted as a major unifying element, especially during festivals and merit-making ceremonies. The temple was used as a place of learning, where people came to perform various activities and at the same time took an opportunity to wear new clothes to show off to their friends, as in those days. people had hardly any other chance to do so. People’s lives have traditionally been associated with the temple which has served as the core of village unity.
People in the past observed the Sart Rite with much enthusiasm. Now, however, the rite seems to have lost much of its significance, especially in Bangkok. Nevertheless, it is still one of the most valuable Buddhist festivals to be observed countrywide.
Cultural activities on Sart Day
To enhance a better understanding of Sart Day and to give advice on how to organise activities on Sart Day that are suited to local environment, the following activities are recommended:
1. To hold seminars and discussions related to Sart Day,
2. To launch campaigns and publicise the significance of Sart Day,
3. Other suitable activities.






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