According to legend, Phrathat Phanom is the first chedi (pagoda) built in the Northeast of Thailand, situated in the area of Wat Phrathat Phonom. Influenced by the Theravadan Buddhist artistic style, the chedi is presumed to be constructed between the l3th and 15th centuries by Phra Maha Kassapa and 500 Arhat monks (those who have attained Nibbana), along with leaders from different cities. Enshrined inside are Lord Buddha’s breast bone and a large amount of valuables. The square-shaped chedi is made of bricks carved with decoration. Its 3-tiered bases differ in size with the top base being the smallest and the lowest base being the largest which houses the stupa. Placed on the top of the chedi is a beautiful solid gold spire decorated with gemstones.
Phrathat Phanom collapsed entirely from a heavy storm in 1975, causing great remorse among the locals, especially the elderly. This prompted the government to quickly rebuild the chedi to its original design and splendor. The Buddha’s relics and other items remain inside the new structure.
Phrathat Phanom is venerated by not only Nakhon Phanom locals, but also Thais from other regions as well as the Laotians.
Phrathat Phanom is regarded as the personal guardian for those who are born in the Chinese Year of Monkey and those who are born on Sundays. Worshipers of this holy chedi are believed to be blessed with merit and virtues as well as respect from others. Devotees who have paid respect to Phrathat Phanom 7 times are regarded as “Phrathat’s Sons” whose lives will be filled with good fortune and prosperity. Locals also believe that paying respect and make offering to Phrathat Phanom will calm their minds and result in their souls resting in heaven when they pass away.
To make offering, first, light a candle and incense sticks and walk with them in hand clockwise (to the south) around the chedi 3 times while saying a prayer. Then, sit down and pay respect at any one cardinal direction. Alternatively as local tradition has it, worshipers can make offerings at each of the 4 cardinal directions by moving clockwise. Merit gained from doing good deeds and following the Buddhist ways is a path to eternal bliss and calm mind. Lord Buddha’s teachings are truths that help people be free from suffering. The state of being free from suffering is equal to being in heaven. Followers should use the core of Buddhism to lead their lives to the ultimate destination of being free from greed, hatred, and delusion.
Besides Phrathat Phanom, the temple also houses two principal images in the attitude of subduing Mara, namely, Phra-ong Saen Satsada and Phra Phuttha Marawichai Satsada. Located in the back of the temple is the ancient yet beautiful Arhat hail, locally known as Katuep built upon the commission of Phaya Sumittathhamwongsa in 43 BC to be donated to 2 Arnat monks. Situated nearby is the Rattana Moli Si Khotrabun Art and Culture Centre, which displays historical artifacts found during the renovation of Wihan Knot or cloisters.
How to get there
Phrathat Phanom is located in That Phanom District. 50 kilometers from Nakhon Phanom town on Highway 212. For further details, please contact Tel. 0 4255 1050 or at “www.thatphanom.com”.