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Gov’t Asks Temples to Chant Daily Prayers to Ward Off COVID-19

Monks chant an anti-plague prayer in a government-mandated effort to ward off COVID-19 on May 11, 2021 at Wat Ratchabophit in Bangkok.

BANGKOK — Temples across the country are ordered to chant a prayer every evening until the pandemic subsides, a spokesman of the national Buddhist authority said Tuesday.

According to the order issued last week by the National Office of Buddhism, the auspicious daily prayer is meant to provide morale to citizens and bring luck to the country. Sipbuan Kaewngarm, the office’s spokesman, said monks at temples nationwide should chant the Rattanasoot Prayer starting Wednesday “until the situation subsides.”

Supreme Patriarch Ariyavongsagatanana, along with 18 monks, all wearing masks, led the prayer at Wat Ratchabophit near the Grand Palace on Tuesday evening to set off the ritual.

Similar chant events were also held today at a major temple each in Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Sakon Nakhon, and Trang provinces.

Sipbuan said the daily prayer will be closed to the public and participating monks must wear face masks and observe social distancing measures. Thai Buddhist temples overseas should also hold anti-plague chants at a time of their convenience, he added.

The government held a similar anti-plague prayer event last March.

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.

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