BANGKOK — The government on Wednesday said it will broadcast live chanting of an ancient prayer designed to ward off plagues next week.
Prime Minister’s Office chief Tewan Liptapanlop said monks at temples nationwide will chant the Rattanasoot Prayer, or the Seven Legends Prayer, in unison on March 25 in a bid to boost public morale amid the epidemic. The chanting will be broadcast on national television from 4pm onward.
“Ever since ancient times, countries have encountered plagues such as cholera,” Tewan said. “We also had chanting then because we believed it would cast away sickness and other bad things from the country.”
Tewan said the Sangha Supreme Council will instruct every wat in the country, as well as Thai Buddhist temples overseas, to chant this prayer.
He would also invite the Supreme Patriarch to preside over the prayer at Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, as well as Wat Traimit Withayaram and major provincial temples for later chantings.
Buddhists are encouraged to watch the live broadcast at home via national broadcasters NBT Channel 11 and MCOT Channel 9 starting 4pm on March 25. In Bangkok, mass chanting will take place at Wat Ratchabophit, Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, and Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan.
Tewan said PM Prayut Chan-o-cha had approved the idea proposed in the Tuesday cabinet meeting to raise citizens’ morale.
He said that temples nationwide have already started cleaning and disinfecting, but “would not be closed as they are a pillar of emotional support for citizens in tough times. If people can’t go to the temple in these times, they will feel upset.”
Democrat Party MP Thepthai Senpong voiced support for the chanting broadcast.
“We have to use every method at our arsenal right now, both scientific and supernatural,” Thepthai said. “Although people might criticize it as superstitious or unscientific, but … according to Buddhist principles, we have to treat mental health problems with prayer chants and meditation to relax.”
The Rattanasoot Prayer is believed to be written by Ananda, one of Buddha’s earliest disciples.
According to Buddhist legends, Ananda used it to ward off plagues, attacks from demons, and famine ravaging Vaishali, an ancient city in present-day northeast India.
The prayer asks spirits in the earth, air, and those among people to have mercy on humans.
“To all the spirits, those in the earth, as well as in the air, and those congregating in this place / May all the spirits be kind / Listen to the exultations of the Triratna that I declare with respect,” the prayer begins.