Golden statues of Buddha line up in a row at many temples of Thailand. These represent the 7 days of the week. Thai people are especially concerned about the day of the week they were born on. Coins will often be left at the statue of their birthday. However, this practice is not actually part of Buddhism, or the teachings (Dhamma). It wasn’t until the last few hundred years that this became a ritual in Thai culture. In fact, this type of belief would fall under the category of superstition, even mixing in elements of astrology. Yet the belief of these poses throughout the week is now very ingrained in the culture. So much so that you will find the statues at many temples. They may not officially be part of Buddhism, but face it…the practice is fun!
Sometimes instead of seven statues, there will be eight. The day of Wednesday is often split into the morning and the evening with each having their own pose. Stories of the poses also may be different. We will explore each day as well as present the differences that may be discovered. Also mentioned are the astrological notes of lucky/unlucky days and colors. Please note that this folk practice is not for the monks, but rather for just the lay people. The poses represent major events in the life of Buddha.
“7 Days Looking” or “In Pensive Thought”
Buddha stands with arms crossed near the waist. The right hand lays over the left. One story says that after achieving enlightenment Buddha stood and admired a Bodhi tree for 7 days without blinking even once. The other popular tale is that he stood for 7 days thinking of the suffering of all living things. He was tempted to enter nirvana at once, but instead chose to teach others his path.
Lucky – Wednesday and Green
Unlucky – Friday and Blue
“Pacifying the Relatives” or “Preventing Calamities”
Buddha stands with his right hand at shoulder height with palm out and fingers extended upward. The left arm and hand rests at his side. Buddha returned from heaven after three months only to find his relatives fighting over water rights between their lands. He seeks a compromise for all. The alternate story involves the ancient city of Vesali. The city was plagued by poverty, cholera, and devils. The king was advised to seek out help from Buddha. Then, Buddha caused heavy rains that washed away the dead bodies that lay in the streets. The devils fled in fear afterwards.
Lucky – Saturday and Black
Unlucky – Sunday and Orange
“Realizing Nirvana” or “Reclining Buddha”
Lying on his right side, the head rests on his hand. The simple thought is that this pose represents Buddha right before he enters nirvana. However, another story involves the arrogant evil named Asura Rahu. This evil was a giant and would not show respect to Buddha. Therefore, Buddha grew in size to become bigger than the giant. He further layed down on his side to lower the pride of Asura Rahu even more. The evil succumbed and accepted the teachings.
Lucky – Thursday and Yellow
Unlucky – Monday and White
Buddha stands with his hands near waist level holding an alms bowl. He collects food in the morning (as do the monks of today). His father, though, calls him a beggar for doing so. Buddha calmed his father, saying that in this way he is available to the followers that bring food. This is the morning pose.
Lucky – Wednesday night and Green
Unlucky – Tuesday and Pink
“Retreat in the Forest” or “Blessed One”
Buddha sits with his left hand over the knee and the right arm extended out with palms facing up. After a group of monks had split in two because of infighting, Buddha retreated to the forest. The elephant named Palilayaka nurtured him with water. Meanwhile, a monkey brought a beehive. The elephant and honey are still very important elements of Thai culture to this day.
Lucky – Monday and White
Unlucky – Thursday and Yellow
“The Meditating Buddha”
This is the lotus position. Legs are crossed with the bottoms of the feet facing up. The arms lay in the lap with the right hand resting above the left hand, both palms up. Buddha received bundles of grass that he then scattered and made a seat with under the Banyan tree. He then made his famous vow that he would not leave this position until he attained enlightenment. In Ayutthaya exists a banyan tree that has grown around a statue. This is the famous head in the tree image that can be so readily found on the internet.
Buddha stands with his elbows at the side while the arms come up the chest. The arms cross with the right hand over the left. After enlightenment Buddha contemplated under the tree. He thought that the knowledge he received would be too difficult to understand to the average person. He ponders how best to explain the cause of suffering to others.
Lucky – Tuesday and Pink
Unlucky – Wednesday night and Light Green
“Protected by the Naga King”
The Buddha sits in the lotus position, this time on the body of a coiled snake. The snake has multiple heads that provides a hood over Buddha’s head. This snake’s name is Naga Muchalinda. His body protects Buddha from flood waters, while his multiple heads protect from the rainfall. The Naga King provided this protection during the sixth week after Buddha’s enlightenment.
Lucky – Friday and Blue
Unlucky – Wednesday and Green