Phuket (AsiaNews/SCMP) The chants of a thousand monks and the glow of more than 10,000 candles honoured yesterday the memory of those who died in the tsunami and to the millions who have donated billions of dollars to help the living pick up their lives.
The ceremony brought together Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, foreigners and Thais clad in white (a colour that represents mourning in Eastern cultures) in prayer for the souls of those who died in a calamity that that has distressed the whole world.
During the ceremony, more than 100 illuminated paper lanterns were released into the sky in an emotional symbolic send-off for the spirits of the departed.
Many who suffered losses in the tsunami wept, but one monk suggested that this might be the beginning of a long healing process from the evil and the wounds that mark the earth.
Fr Peter Pakpoom of the Church of Our Lady of Assumption in Phuket led the Catholic prayers for the souls of the dead that they might find peace and for the survivors that they be granted strength to rebuild their lives.
Imam Naren Rodnakrat said Muslims, particularly in Indonesia and Thailand, have been badly hit by the tsunami, but his prayers went out to people from all over the world since "we all have the same roots even if our beliefs may differ".
Venerable Phra Dhammakittiwong, head of Phuket's Buddhist monastic community, led the final prayers of the service, seeking strength and willpower for survivors that they may carry on and a blessing for those who died.
Many people in the region have said they will not return to Phuket anytime soon for fear of the spirits of the thousands who died violent deaths on its beaches.
Pachongsak Padamasankh, a Thai volunteer present at the ceremony, said he hoped the glow of the candles and the goodness in heart of the people present at the service will dispel any such darkness.
"The lanterns," he noted, "are believed to drive out the darkness from each of us [and] the [. . .] goodness from the entire world [. . .] will help the souls of the dead".