Asia

Wat Uppakhut Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Uppakhut (Upphakhut Temple) is situated on Tha Phae Road close to Nawarat Bridge. Come from the junction in front of the bridge for around 10 metres and the temple is on the left. Here is where the well-known tradition of midnight food offering is held. The event occurs every Wednesday’s full moon night, so called Peng Phut, rooted from the local belief about Phra Uppakhut disguising as a novice coming out to collect alms and offerings from people on such days.

Wat Uppakhut temple was built with the permission of the Sangkha Actof 1902 (B.E. 2445). The Uppakhut history book stated that the temple was built by a couple who were very poor. The two made a living in farming and small trading. One day, they offered part of their little income to a novice monk who happened to be Phra Uppakhut in disguise. Phra Uppakhut was a holy noble Sangkha who received a prophecy from the Buddha for him to represent him and care for the religion. Phra Uppakhut lived his nirvana life at the bottom of the sea. Every holy day on the full moon he would disguise himself as a novice to accept food offerings at dawn. Whoever had a chance to offer him food would prosper and become a rich man. After the offering was presented, the couple became rich from trading and built the temple in the area where they had offered their money to the novice monk. They hired a sculptor to mold an image of Phra Uppakhut to look like the novice they once met and stored it in the temple.

Originally there were two Wat Uppakhut; one Thai and one Burmese. The two later were merged together to become the Wat Uppakhut (Thai) and the Burmese one was replaced with the Buddha Sathan Chiang Mai. Due to the temple’s being a large one and being situated in the community center, a large number of people came to make merit here. Luang Anusan Sunthorn (Sun Hi) and Nang Anusan Sunthon (Khamtieng), the forebears of the Nimmanheminda family who resided opposite the temple were one of the major patrons of the temple. Their portraits are painted on the wall of the vihara. A unique tradition performed at the temple is the offering presentation on full moon Wednesdays called the “Peng Put” rites. This came from the belief that whoever gets to present offerings to Phra Uppakhut will be blessed and become rich in a short time.

Categories: Asia, Travel

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