The sacred oxen's choice of drinking water and eating grass during the Royal Ploughing Ceremony at Sanam Luang in Bangkok yesterday was interpreted as a forecast that there will be abundant water and food this year.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the annual ceremony early yesterday on behalf of His Majesty, to mark the beginning of the rainy season and rice-planting season.
Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan also led caretaker ministers, senior officials, foreign diplomats and members of the public to welcome the royal representative.
During the ceremony, in which Chavalit Chookajorn, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, served as the “Phraya Raekna”, the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony, the sacred oxen were given grass, rice, corn, beans, sesame, liquor and water from which to choose.
The Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony also chose a six- kueb-long cloth, a length that was seen to predict that water levels will be low, rice crops in lowland areas will be bountiful while rice crops in highland areas will sustain some damage. (A kueb is a measure from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the middle finger when the hand is spread).
This year, the oxen drank water and ate grass, indicating that there will be enough water while rice, food and fruit will be abundant.
After the ceremony ended, the crowd scrambled for seeds sown by the Ploughing Lord, as these are said to bring the people wealth and good luck.
Farmers mix the seeds with their own rice to ensure a good crop in the coming year.
Farmers from Muang District in Uttaradit province also used the auspicious occasion to start ploughing rice plots in readiness for sowing seeds while also taking the opportunity to plant vegetables and fruit.
The province, which has been hit by drought, has finally seen some rain.
Farmers in tambon Wang Din started working their rice fields in the early hours of the morning.
Farmer Somkid Intha said he had stopped growing rice for more than six months because his plot was off the irrigation zone.
But heavy rain over the past week has replenished reservoirs so he chose the auspicious day to begin a crop of organic rice.