New Mandala readers in Oxford will be keen to know that Andrew is presenting a paper at a seminar tomorrow. It will be held from 5.00 to 6.30 pm on Wednesday, 11 October, in the Deakin Room, Founder’s Building, St Antony’s College, Oxford.

The details follow:

The festival, the abbot and the son of the Buddha: modern Thai community in Chiang Mai province

This paper provides an analysis of a “great festival” (poi luang) held in the village of Baan Tiam in northern Thailand. The festival was held to celebrate the successful renovation of parts of the village temple. Taking Durkheim’s analysis of ceremony as a starting point the paper examines the ways in which the festival succeeds and fails in the symbolic construction of community. The paper focusses on three key symbols deployed during the festival: the local concept of the “collective” (suan huam), the Abbot of the temple, and the mysterious spirit, Upakhut, believed by many villagers to be the son of the Buddha.