6 June 2024

Two pairs of sacred oxen have been chosen to be used in the annual Ploughing Ceremony at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, which will be presided over by His Majesty the King.

The first pair of oxen, named “Por” and “Piang”, are to be used in the actual ceremony, while the second pair, named “Perm” and “Pool”, are reserves.

The four oxen are chosen based on their characteristics and manners, which match ancient criteria which include, among others, their colour, shape, size, overall appearance, leg strength and tail length.

Por is about 12 years old, is 165cm tall, 225cm long and has a chest size of 214cm. Piang stands 169cm tall, is 229cm long and measures 210cm around the chest.

Both oxen were donated to the Livestock Development Department by Somchai Damtamis and Arkhom Wattanakul respectively, as a tribute to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Ploughing Ceremony marks the beginning of the rice growing season in Thailand.

During the ceremony, two sacred oxen are hitched to a wooden plough. They plough a furrow in the ceremonial ground, while rice seeds are sown by court Brahmins.

After the ploughing ritual, the oxen are offered plates of food, including rice, corn, green beans, sesame, grass, liquor and water. The eating by the oxen of each kind of food carries different predictions.

For instance, if the oxen eat rice or maize, it means there will be plenty of cereals and fruits. If the oxen eat beans or sesame seeds, it predicts plentiful food and fruits.

The Lord of the Ceremony will then pick one of three pieces of cloth of different lengths.

The shortest one denotes that there will be abundant rainfall and plentiful rice in the highlands; medium length means average rainfall with bountiful rice, fruits and meat and the longest cloth means little rainfall, but plentiful of rice in the lowlands.