The Ploughing Festival owes its orgin to the times when Prince Gautama was just a child, seven years of age. At the point of time, an annual ploughing festival was held when the rice field was ploughed. Once, king Sudhodana took along his son, Prince Gautama, to see the festival. There, the little prince fell asleep. Discovering that the prince had fallen asleep, His maids left Him and went to join in the festivities. On waking up, the prince found Himself alone. Instead of getting hassled, he engaged Himself in meditation. He breathed in and out and thereby attained one-pointedness of the mind and developed the First Ecstasy (Jhana). On their return, the maids were completely surprised to find the little prince meditating. They immediately informed the king about it and he was equally surprised to his son in a meditative posture. He was so impressed that he saluted his young son and said, "This, dear child is my second salutation".
Later, in His life, the prince used the same form of meditation and attained enlightened. The Ploughing festival celebrates the first enlightenment of prince Gautama or the Buddha.
The Ploughing Festival In Thailand
The Ploughing Festival in Thailand is Raek Na. This festival is held in Bangkok in the month of May. In this, Buddhist monks sit cross legged besides a statue of Lord Buddha that looks down on the rice ploughing. White oxen pull specially adorned plough and are followed by a whole group of people holding banners and playing musical instruments. Thereafter, the Lord of the Festival ploughs three short furrows and in them rice seeds are sown.
There are three cloths, all of different lengths. Out of these three the Lord of the festival, who is oblivious of which is big or small amongst them, picks up one. This indicates the amount of rainfall in the year. The oxen that pull the plough are offered bowls of rice, beans, maize, sesame or hay, water or alcohol. The first of these item they select to eat is considered to indicate the crop that ia going to flourish in the season.