MANDALAY — The Mandalay Division government is organizing a mass donation ceremony in cooperation with Thailand’s Dhammakaya Foundation for next month to strengthen relations between the two countries.
The ceremony, expected to draw some 20,000 monks from across the division and 60 monks from Thailand, is schedule for Jan. 21 at Mandalay’s Chanmyatharzi Airport.
The organizing committee includes the Union minister of religion and culture, the chief minister of Mandalay and other regional government officials. According to the committee, this will be the second time that Thai monks will have joined such a ceremony in Mandalay but the first time that so many local monks will have taken part.
“This event will be unique for Mandalay because we’ve never done this before with so many monks,” said U Soe Lin, the committee chairman.
“This event will not only strengthen relations between Myanmar and Thailand, but also preserve Buddhist culture in the country,” he said. “As Mandalay is one of the centers of Buddhism, this will be a historically remarkable event.”
According to the committee, the Dhammakaya Foundation, part of Thailand’s Dhammakaya monastery, has donated 400,000,000 kyats ($293,000) for the event.
“We are now cleaning the Chanmyatharzi Airport because it has been abandoned for more than a decade, since the airport was moved to Tadaoo. Our chief minister chose this place to avoid traffic congestion from the event,” said U Soe Lin.
The first mass donation ceremony, with 10,000 monks, was held in Mandalay in September 2015 in cooperation with the abbot of the Dhammakaya monastery, Luang Por Dhammajayo, who is currently wanted by the Thai government for money laundering.
The organizing committee said the event is expected to bring in at least 30,000 kyats in donations for each of the invited monks and that everyone was welcome to join.
Devotees interested in participating in the ceremony should contact the committee in Mandalay not later than Jan. 15.