May 5, 2023
BANGKOK – Wat Phra That Phanom, one of the most important spiritual sites in Thailand, will be closed for one month starting on Friday so that a plan can be developed and implemented to ensure the vendors who conduct business in and around the temple do not trash it.
The mess vendors make inside and around the temple will prevent Wat Phra That Phanom from being named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ananchai Chaiyadej chairman of the temple’s executive committee announced on Wednesday.
Vendors are violating the temple’s rules and leaving areas inside and outside the temple untidy, the announcement read.
They are also irritating pilgrims to the sacred site, said Ananchai.
Ensuring that vendors follow temples rules and are organised in a way that does not diminish the spirit of the temple is necessary for it to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which will help protect the temple for future generations.
The announcement did not go over well with some vendors who staged a protest around the temple.
The temple is located near the Mekong River in That Phanom district in the southern part of Nakhon Phanom province in the Northeast.
It draws pilgrims from both Thailand and Laos, especially to make merit during Buddhist festivals. An annual week-long festival is held at the temple in January.
The 53-metre-tall pagoda was built in the 12th century when the area was part of the Khmer Empire, but gradually incorporated Laotian and Thai features over the centuries, scholars say.
It is believed to contain relics of The Buddha.
The temple is adorned with murals illustrating Thai proverbs.
It is especially revered by Buddhists born in the year of the monkey or on Sunday.