Last week I went to Wat Olak Madu at Sidam Kiri, in the Padang Serai district of Kedah, to take part in a couple of the rememberance ceremonies amongst the Thai community.
The main day on Tuesday saw a gathering at the local (Thai-only) cemetery with about 300-400 villagers and relatives who had come to the village for the day.
There was a lot of chanting, then dāna and blessings at the various graves. The whole thing took around 3-4 hours, and was quite enjoyable, but it was not possible to get any photographs.
Later in the week there was another, but much shorter ceremony at the Temple itself, again involving chanting and dāna.
While I was in the Temple I took numerous photographs of some of the modern artworks that are found in the Preaching Hall and Sīma Hall, which has resulted in two new albums for the Photo Dharma website.
The most extensive is from the Santi Dhamma Hall, which is named after our host for the occasions, Ajahn Santi, who raised the money to have the Hall built and decorated in 1993.
The paintings in that Hall are by Paw Oo, a talented young Burmese painter, who has since emigrated to Australia.
I do not know much more about him, except for this remarkable thing, which Ajahn told me: despite the size and complexity of the paintings, Paw Oo would sometimes be able to paint two in a day, which shows a remarkable facility.
The paintings are of Jātaka stories, mainly from the Mahānipāta, the birth and quest of the Bodhisatta, and the Life of the Buddha and some of his disciples.
When we returned for the second ceremony I also managed to get photos from the Sīma Hall, which had been locked earlier in the week.
The paintings there are by Aung, and illustrate the Jayamangalagāthā, a famous blessing text popular throughout SE Asia, which describes the eight beings who were overcome by the Buddha.
I have also included my text and translation of the verses on this page, so that the stories can be properly understood.