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January 3, 2013

Luang Por Sothorn

Luang Por Sothorn

 One of Thai’s famous Buddhas Luang Por Sothorn or mostly
known as Buddha Sothorn is well known in Thai. People from all
walks of lives over the country even the neighbourhood countries
and amulets collectors are familiar with this Buddha image.
Luang Por Sothorn is regarded as one of the most revered Buddha
images in Thailand. It is said that if you pray sincerely to Buddha Sothorn,
your career amd wealth would have smooth progress and it will protect
your health & safety.

The temple Wat Sothorn Wararam Wora Wiham is located in
Chachoengsao province, northern Thai.
History of Wat Sothorn

Buddha Sothorn is generally known as Luang Por Sothorn.
Its initial historical facts were already unknown. What we know now
is only the legendary story passing down from the ancient with brief
description and according to the records compiled by
Thai Art Department.

The Wat Sothorn or Wat Hong, was built in later Ayutthaya period.
There was a huge wooden stick in front of the temple, and above
it there is a copper made golden phoenix. This is probably how
the Wat Hong got its name. However the phoenix was blown off
due to strong wind and left only empty wood stick. Thereafter its
name was changed to Wat Sao Thong. "Sao" in Thai means the
wooden stick, while "thong" means the flagpole. Later the flagpole
was broken again, then its name was changed as
Wat Sao Thong Thong (วัดเสาทอน).

It was said that there were 3 Buddha images floating from the
northern river, and one of it was the Luang Por Sothorn which is
worshiped in the temple now, hence the temple was later
named as Wat Sothorn.
When was Buddha Sothorn enshrined in Wat Sothorn?

       According to the legendary, during the kingdom of Ayutthaya,
Myanmar invaded Thailand to loot the local temples especially
Buddha statues made from gold as it could be melted into gold.
During its second invasion, the devotees of a temple had smeared
mud on the whole body of the golden Buddha statues and put them
into raft to drift away with river flow. Three of the Buddha statues
floated down Pakong river passing through Prachin Buri. Later the
statues were seen in Chachoengsao by the local people and
they tried to tie the 3 statues with hemp rope and pull it to shore.
However their effort was in vain. They couldn’t pull the statues
no matter how hard they tried.

Then the bigger statue (Luang Por Baan Laem) floating down till
Baan Laem in Samut Songkhram province. The local people
there pull it ashore and enshrined it in Wat Baan Laem. The smallest
one (Luang Por Tor) floated till Samut Prakan province and enshrined
by local people in Wat Bang Li. The another statue which was the
Luang Por Sothorn floated till Chachoengsao province and
discovered by local people. They tried to tie it with the hemp rope
and pulled it ashore but they failed no matter how hard they tried.
Then a monk set up an altar chanting prayer and tied a blessed
cord on the hand of the Buddha image. Amazingly the Buddha
image was easily pulled ashore and then enshrined
in Wat Sothorn till now.

There was no exact record of when Luang Por Sothorn enshrined
in Wat Sothorn. Hoever, as the three Buddha images floated at
the same period and the year people discovered Luang Por Baan Laem
was in B4 2313, therefore it was inferred that Luang Por Sothorn
was enshrined in Wat Sothorn around BE2313 too.

It was said that King Rama V had been inspected to that area.
Although there was no exact date of literature about the the origin
name of Wat Sothorn, the prime minister in King Rama V period
had said that the person who named it must be someone
knowledgeable as it is not only nice but also contains deep meaning.
The origin of Luang Por Sothorn

       There are few different versions of stories about origin of
Luang Por Sothorn. There were 3 Buddhas brothers statues floated
along northern river to Bang Pakong river area in reversed drift.
Local people saw them and tied ropes on the hands of statues.
About 500 of them were helping to pull the statues ashore but their
effort was in vain. The rope was cut off and the three statues
dropped under the water and disappeared. The 3 Buddha
statues floated along Bang Pakong river until south of Wat Sothorn
but weren’t pulled ashore and kept floating in reversed drift.

The elder Buddha floated till Samut Songkhram's Baan Laem.
People worshiped and enshrined it till now. And it was named as
Luang Por Baan Laem. Another statue floated to Bang Phli in
Samut Prakan province, and was known as Luang Por Tor while
Luang Por Sothorn was flowed to Wat Sothorn and enshrined
over there. The original Buddha Sothorn was bery beautiful and
made from alloy, with over 50 cm of knee distance. The
image was in samadhi meditation posture, legs crossed and palms
facing top. The monks in Wat Sothorn were afraid that people would
be very selfish, had pursue of desire & endless greedy. One
would keep the Luang Por Sothorn secretly if he/ she has no
religious belief. To avoid these problems in the future, they
covered the original statue with cement and made it into
meditation posture with knees distance of 165cm.

Another folklore said that there were 5 brothers who turned
out to posses supernatural power. To help all living creatures
they transformed as five Buddha statues and floated along
river to place where people hoped to see miracles. One of it
was the Buddha Sothorn. Another four were Luang Por Wat Raikhing
in Wat Rai Khing, Nakhon Chai Si; Luang Por To Wat Bang Phli
in Bang Phli Nai; Luang Por Wat Baan Laem in Mae Klong river’s
Baan Laem village, Samut Songkhram; and Khao Takhrao in
Wat Khao Takhrao, Petcha Buri.
Buddha Sothorn in meditation posture

      From the outlook of the Buddha Sothorn, it belongs to the type
of appearance in Larn Chang area, which is popular in Laos & northern
east of Thai, also known as Phra Lao (Lao Buddha). The original image
under the gilded body was still inconclusive. Some people guessed
it was carved wood as wood could float in the water while some
said it was carved stone. However in the ancient record it was made
by alloy. And this is even more evident of the Buddha’s miracle.   

Efficacious Luang Por Sothorn

 There were plenty legends about the efficacy and miracle
happenings of Buddha Sothorn. Many Thais knew that if you
wish to gain wealth and enhance your career you should worship
Buddha Sothorn. This is because it would bestow prayers wishes
to gain extra cash. Therefore, many businessmen would worship
Buddha Sothorn.  Praying to Buddha Sothorn sincerely could
make you obtain wealth & easy money.

In early stage, surrounding area of Wat Sothorn was very remote
and there were only few people living there. The traffic was
inconvenient too. After enshrining the Luang Por Sothorn, people
living on the water believed that praying wishes to Luang Por Sothorn
could make their business become smooth. Some believed that the
river water in front of Wat Sothorn was holy water. They would drink
the water and used it to wash their body and face when they
rowed boats to Wat Sothorn. When someone fell sick, they
also prayed to Luang Por Sothorn to get protection.
Luang Por Sothorn had granted all the wishes for them and to be success.
Prayers would always have votive celebration to Luang Por Sothorn. 

It was said that there was a period of time where famine
occurred in the village of Wat Sothorn. Drought occurred and had
not rain for long period. Seedlings withered and smallpox disease
infected. Many people and children died. Many of the them gave up
their home property and ran away. Those who couldn’t run away could
only stay there and faced death. That time an old man was infected
by smallpox disease and he had no one to look after him. He asked
for protection from Luang Por Sothorn. He received an incense ash,
a dried worship flower and scripture water from there and cooked
all the 3 things together to drink and wash his whole body. His sickness
was healed later. He conducted a votive activity delightly. His story
was spreaded and people had come to pray and
worship Luang Por Sothorn.

Now we can see there are many street vendors selling lottery
around Wat Sothorn and many devotees are queuing up to make
appointments for votive dance to Luang Por Sothorn. It is said
that there are many devotees who came to worship Luang Por Sothorn
who impromptuly bought one or two lotteries outside the temple would
come here again driving luxury cars to arrange the votive dance.
They would also donate money to Wat Sothorn to express gratitude.
A Thai tea dealer said that his agent would come to donate fifty
thousands bahts to the temple every month. He would feel uncomfortable
if he didn’t go. He believed that his business is getting better and
stable through Luang Por Sothorn’s gift. Therefore he is willing
to join and sponsor in every activity.   
Worshiping activities

People from near and far come to worship Luang Por Sothorn
due to its efficacy. The celebration events are conducted twice a year.

1. Thai lunar calendar- May (March - April), known as mid May activity.
Total in 3 days starts from Thai lunar calendar May 14th .
2. Thai lunar calendar- December (around November), known as mid Dec activity.
Total in 5 days starting from Thai lunar calendar 12th .

Luang Por Sothorn amulets
Wat Sothorn  BE2460  first batch Luang Por Sothorn amulet
Wat Sothorn  BE2500 Luang Por Sothorn statue
Wat Lahanrai  BE2518 Luang Pu Tim’s Buddha Sothorn

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