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Wat Phra That Nong Bua

Wat Phra That Nong Bua (วัดพระธาตุหนองบัว) is one of Ubon Ratchathani’s most sacred temples, because of the Maho Pho Chedi, a massive Indian style chedi that was built in 1956 to celebrate 2500 years of Buddhism. The beautiful chedi stands 56 meters tall and resembles the Mahabodhi stupa in Bodh Gaya, India, where the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment. Each section of the impressive stone chedi is fringed with gold, and depicts scenes from the Jakata tales, a compilations of stores which tell of the previous births of Gautama Buddha, from animal form, up through human form.

The Maho Pho Chedi at Wat Phra That Nong Bua features 32 Buddha statues surrounding the base of the chedi, with Naga guardians at each of the four corners. Inside the chedi is a gorgeous, gilded pagoda carved with the 500 lives of the Gods, as depicted historically in Indian-Pali art. Relics of the Buddha are housed within the ornate pagoda, and on each outer side stands a beautiful sculpture of the Buddha, his head framed by a sun-like Dharma wheel.

Wat Phra That Nong Bua is located near the heart of Ubon Ratchathani. The temple is only 15 minutes from Wat Tai Phra Chao Yai Ong Tue, one of the most dazzling temples in all of Thailand, as it’s filled with hundreds of statues and depictions from Buddha and Hindu legends. Since both of these Isaan temples are centrally located, it is easy to find lodging and restaurants within a short distance (if not walking distance) from either temple.

Making a small donation to Wat Phra That Nong Bua is easy when you enter the Maho Pho Chedi. On one side of the four walls, there are 7 donation machines corresponding to each day of the week. Inside the machines is also a Buddha statue in a pose that corresponds to each day of the week. Place your donation in the machine that corresponds with the day you were born, and receive a blessing, as well as make merit.

There is also another donation machine where you can deposit a 5 or 10 baht coin, and receive a lucky number. You then could look for this number on a lottery ticket sold by one of the independent lottery ticket sellers. They usually sell tickets on the grounds outside Wat Phra That Nong Bua, as well as other famous temples in Thailand where people go to make merit. Note that should you be fortunate enough to win a large sum of money in the lottery this way, it is customary to go back to the temple where you bought the ticket and make a generous donation, as well as offer the lottery ticket seller a large tip.

Wat Phra That Nong Bua also showcases the works of some of the most talented wax-carving artists in Northeast Thailand. Sakon Nakhon is noted for its talented artisans who create floats for the city’s famous Wax Castle Festival. The artisans in Ubon Ratchathani are just as talented, and create similar wax-carved floats for the city’s Candle Festival, which draws over 200,000 tourists each year. The floats feature figures from Buddhist and Hindu legends, as well as dragons, angels, horses, and more. The Candle Festival occurs in late July or early August, during the full moon of the 8th lunar month. But you can often see the previous year’s floats all year long at Wat Phra That Nong Bua.

David Alan