Shortly thereafter, we stopped to deliver John and Nine to "Seeing Hands Massage," while Jimmy Joe and I were off to photograph the pagoda. These massage facilities are sponsored by an NGO, or non-governmental organization, and are staffed by talented massage therapists who have lost their sight. As we can all attest, they do a fantastic job. (John may look like he is dead, but he's really just very relaxed.)
We were fortunate that our visit to Wat Ounalom came on a day when the monks were preparing for a special ceremony of some sort. The pagoda was adorned with flags and bunting and the monks were busy helping to drape the stage with brilliant orange cloth.
We walked around the grounds admiring the statuary. While we were taking photographs, two elderly women wanted us to take their pictures with their hands on the images of cattle. We were told that touching the statues is considered good luck.
Inside the pagoda, the senior monk was receiving donations and holding audiences with visitors bearing gifts and asking for his blessings.
Among the decorations surrounding the altar were a number of cutouts of animals. We were told they will be burned at some later time to bring good luck.
A small group of musicians were performing just inside the pagoda. They were playing traditional instruments, many of which I had never seen.
After his audiences, the senior monk held a short conference with one of the other monks, then supervised the rearrangement of the Buddha images.
Some of the figures are seated, while others stand with their hands in various traditional positions. By noting the placement of the hands, one can tell whether the Buddha is meditating, delivering a blessing, or is in some other state.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and were especially pleased that we happened to choose such a special day.