The Ploughing Festival originates from the times when Prince Gautama seven years old. It is also known as Royal Ploughing Ceremony. It was the premise of an ordeal which would later assist him in his search for Enlightenment.
The King Sudhodana organized a ploughing festival to promote agriculture. It was for sure a merry event for all, as the both nobles and average citizens partook in the function.
The King went to the field on the designated day, joined by his squires. He brought along with him the young child along with the caretakers. The King took part in the furrowing celebration too. He seated young Siddhartha at a place under the cool shade of a singular rose-apple tree to be taken care of by the nurses. The attendants too wandered off from the young prince to get a look at the exhibition when the celebration was at its peak.
It was quiet and calm under the rose-apple tree, contrasting the cheerfulness of the celebration. The conditions were right for meditation, the thoughtful prince, sat with folded legs and grabbed the chance to start the extremely critical routine with regards to purpose : fixation on the breath – on exhalations and inward breaths – which picked up for him without further ado that one sharpness of mind known as Samādhi.
He, in this way, built up the First Jhāna (Ecstasy). His attendants hurried to the child when they understood their obligation, and were astounded to see him sitting leg over leg dove in profound meditation. The King, knowing about it, rushed to the spot and saw the youngster in reflective stance, saluted him, saying – “This child is my second homage”.
The Ploughing Festival in Theravada Countries
The Ploughing Festival is an ancient royal custom held in many South East Asian countries, signifying the traditional beginning of the rice growing season. The royal ploughing ceremony was also a custom in Myanmar before colonization until the monarchy was abolished in 1885.
As of now, the festival is practiced in Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
It is usually held in the month of May. Buddhist monks sit with folded legs near a Buddha statue looking down on the rice ploughing. White oxen pull decorated plough as they are followed by people playing music and bearing banners. Then the Lord of the Festival digs three short furrows rice is sown in them.
The oxen are offered food after the ploughing, including rice, green beans, sesame, corn, fresh-cut grass, water and rice whisky.