The Emerald Buddha is very old. It was rediscovered in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, but the revered object had been encased in plaster to protect it from invaders. When the plaster was removed, the monks found a jade Buddha. “Emerald” refers to the green color, not the building material. When the Thai capital was moved to Bangkok, the Emerald Buddha was brought south, and a temple was built to house the Buddha, where it resides today on a large pedestal.
When you enter any Buddhist temple in Thailand, there are a handful of rules you must follow. First, your clothing should cover your knees and shoulders. If you are improperly dressed, you can usually rent a sarong to cover yourself before you enter the temple, but it’s best to just dress appropriately in the first place. Second, shoes must be removed before you enter the temple. Third, once inside the templeA, if you sit down, make sure you never point the bottom of your feet toward the Buddha. Finally, make sure you stay below the level of the Buddha’s head. This final one is easy to maintain at the Emerald Buddha Temple because the Buddha is very high with the help of its pedestal, though the size of the Buddha statue itself is not that big.
ST and I took our shoes off and queued up with the many other people to enter the temple. We were jostled and jolted forward and finally got inside. From the luminous inlaid doors to the plush carpets to the intricate wall coverings, the interior of the temple is magnificent, appropriate to the importance of the Emerald Buddha to Thailand. We did not spend very long inside due to the crowds, but it was worth seeing.
Tomorrow I will share some more details from our visit to the nearby Wat Pho.
Title quote: Prophesy by the sage Nagasena about what the Emerald Buddha brings