A fire breathing abbot in Surin has angered traditional Buddhists who think he is not following the precepts and is just engaging in superstitious mumbo jumbo.
Pictures of Phra Rattanachai went viral online as he breathed fire during an ostentatious "Kathin" ceremony that featured hundreds of villagers and four elephants.Reporters from Sanook went to pay the 44 year old abbot a visit at his temple in Sankha district of the north eastern province. There he obliged the press by imbibing hot wax droplets and mixing them with fat and spewing them out of his mouth over a "disciple" under a white cloth. Reporters expressed amazement that he was not scalded. This action, the abbot explained, would rid the disciple of all illness and disease and bring eternal good fortune. It was highly auspicious. Though he said what he did at the kathin ceremony was a bit different - but it would certainly bring good fortune to all who saw it. Kathin ceremonies are colorful parades at the end of monks' retreats held at local temples. Many online said that this was not Buddhism but simple superstition and felt that the monk had overstepped the mark. What he saw as auspicious they saw as superstitious.
The Surin Office of National Buddhism yesterday (Oct 12) warned against performing fire breathing by a temple abbot saying the performer could breach monastic discipline.
Warning by the Buddhism office came after a video clip showing an abbot of Wat Pa Rattanasuthikratom in Tambon Thaptan, Sangkha district of Surin province is blowing flames from his mouth at a Todkatin religious fair three days ago. The clip has gone viral on the internet with many viewers saying it was an inappropriate act for a monk to perform.
The abbot was later identified as Phra Palad Rattanachai-asinghiko.