One morning as we were getting ready for our morning worship service, I looked out of the window and felt the mild wind of the morning air, made sweet and cool by a strong pouring rain. Our Burmese Pastor walked in and stood by my side and said, “this year seems to be unusual, the rain came early and rains are the heaviest I've seen so far since we moved here in Mae Sai.”
I think his assessment was accurate and many people affirmed his observation because there was much flooding in the area and our neighbors said that they could not remember the last time that flooding of this magnitude happened. There were news of more flooding in other areas of Thailand on TV. People were caught unaware.
Our Burmese Pastor continued... “however, today, this rain will be the last rain for this year.” I looked at the calendar that hanged beside the window and asked him with a hint of unbelief in my voice, “is that so? We are just on the second week of October.” And he answered, “I'm pretty sure that this will the last rain. Then after a week, the Buddhists both Burmese and Thais will go to the river to float their little boats with candles, joss sticks, flowers, money and sometimes food to offer thanksgiving to the goddess of river for providing the rain for an assurance of good harvest this year. In that boat, they will also cast the bad lucks they had and the wrongs they did for this year and feel good looking forward to the coming year.” He looked at me as if saying, you have to believe me and I give him a very slight nod.
And he was right, after a week many people came to the river in attitude of worship and prayer. Giving their offerings to goddess of river and hope that rain would come again next year. People believe that this practice is part of their national religion, but it is not. This practice is animism that predates Buddhism. Nonetheless, the practice made sense to them... and it makes sense to me!