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Temple wants remains from graveyard removed

The relatives of 1,677 people buried at a graveyard belonging to the historic Wat Phananchoeng in Ayutthaya, have been told to remove their remains by August next year, as the 20-rai compound is being turned into a car park and will also be the site for the construction of a building for convalescing monks.

Deputy abbot Phra Maha Cherdchai Katapunyo also cited the upcoming Asean Economic Community in 2015 as a reason for the changes, based on complaints from visitors that they had problems parking their cars.

The abbot confirmed rumours that the traditional Chinese burial plots in the graveyard had been bought up by private owners and were currently being sold for about Bt300,000 a plot, but said the temple had never benefited from any kind of trade in the plots, and had never supported any kind of policy geared towards making a profit from the burial plots.

The temple also plans to build a number of walls supporting alcoves where the "relics" of any future dead would be housed. However, the remains in the graveyard would need to be removed before the deadline, or the relatives would "face legal action", said Winai Asvarachan, the temple's chief layman.

He said relatives were attempting to reach a middle ground with the temple, mediated by the local public prosecutors' office, but the temple had moved to make the matter a legal issue.

Winai said he felt bad about exhuming the remains of the dead from the graveyard, and was in the process of deciding jointly with his relatives whether the body of their own departed relative should be buried at another graveyard, or cremated.

The monk said a complex of buildings for convalescing monks and a number of buildings for meditation were possible future projects in a separate space adjacent to the graveyard.

It is not known when Wat Phananchoeng, also known by its full name, Worawihan, was built before the Ayutthaya period (1351-1767), but the main Buddha image, named Phra Phuttha Trai Rattana Nayok, housed in this temple, was made in 1324.

The temple also serves as the official residence of Phra Thep Rattanakorn, the chief of the provincial monastic office and also the temple's abbot.


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