Starting from the night of April 21st, monks, novices, and devotees started arriving from all cities around Thailand, and even from other countries to attend the event. Phrathepyanmahamuni sent invitations to monks and novices from all over of Thailand to travel to Wat Phra Dhammakaya to be a part of world’s first largest Alms Offering event, so that on his birthday, all of his devotees and monks may start their day off with a great act of generosity.
The first grand event started off early in the morning as the sun came up which was the alms offering ceremony in front of the Dhammakaya cetiya. Receiving the alms were over 100,000 Thai monks and novices. Many of the monks are from the southern part of Thailand, where they have been facing insurgency and chaos for many years. The food collected from this ceremony will be sent to those 4 southern bordering provinces of Thailand to aid all the temples in need. After the alms offering ceremony all the monks, novices, and lay devotees meditated together in the Dhammakaya Meditation Hall.
Then in the afternoon, there was the ceremony to cast the 3rd gold statue of the Master Nun Chand Konnookyong, also known was Khun Yai. Khun Yai refers to the founder of Wat Phra Dhammakaya. She was an 80 years old illiterate nun when she first began the establishment of Wat Phra Dhammakaya. There are several monuments of her at Wat Phra Dhammakaya, showing that both the abbot and the devotees of this temple have been very keen to pay her respect. Phrathepyanmahamuni initiated the casting of Khun Yai’s gold statue with a meditation session. Then, many of the monks and devotees lined up to pass along two golden spheres from the abbot to the gold melting furnace.
Phrathepyanmahamuni once said on DMC, the temple’s personal broadcasting channel, “Khun Yai was the most important person in my life.” Thus, he took the occasion of his birthday to cast Khun Yai’s gold statue, which in Buddhist culture is a sign of the utmost respect.
The last event of the day was the Award Ceremony. It was an honor for Phrathepyanmahamuni to receive a total of 97 awards from 40 countries, where the award presenters were there to offer the awards to him by hand. The awards presenters ranged from high Buddhist monks, nuns, government officials, to organization presidents and representatives. The awards that were given to Phrathepyanmahamuni shows how his hard work and dedication to establishing various projects were to strengthen and prolong Buddhism and to spread world peace through inner peace by the means of meditation.
Highlights are as follow:
International Buddha Education Institute presented by Reverend Loknayak Ashva Ghosh Mahanayaka
Noble Awards from Supreme Patriarchs and Sanghas
Sangharaja, Supreme Patriarch of Bangladesh
Sanghanayaka of Bangladesh
Most Ven. Bhadanta Tilawkar Bivamsa, Myanmar
Most Ven. Dr. Thich Thien Tam, Vietnam
The Great Supreme Patriarch of the Kingdom of Cambodia
All Nepal Bhikkhu Association
The Korea Theravada Maha Sangha Sapha
Uganda Buddhist Centre
Most Ven. Thich Tri Guand of Vietnam
Tango University of Buddhist Studies, Bhutan
Awards from Government Officials
President Benigno S. Aquino III of The Phillipines
Archbishop Lagdameo of The Phillipines
Federal Parliament of Nepal
Ministry Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal
HRH. Dr. Molinge Ikome David, Cameroon
Awards from Universities
Rissho University, Japan
The Department of Theology and Religion, University of Otago, New Zealand
The Norwegian Institute of Palaeography and Historical Philology
Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology, USA
SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies University of London, UK
Istituto di Psicologia Subbliminale`, Italy
After receiving the awards showing great appreciation to all that came to present them to him, Phrathepyanmahamuni made a thank you speech to the entire awards presenters. Part of it was as follow, “Many have traveled great distances to present these noble awards today at the Dhammakaya Meditation Hall. This is a testament to the collaboration between the Four Buddhist Communities to unite and help revive Buddhism to restore it to its golden days.”
Over 200,000 people, in total, from all over the world attended this Earth Day ceremony, despite all the rumors and discrimination from some sectors in the society. These people who attended are people who believe in the goodness of Phrathepyanmahamuni and are willing to show it through supporting him. If he were an ordinary man, there would not have been so many guests on his birthday. He is a true activist advocating for Buddhism and true world peace.