Wednesday, 21 July 2010

SIMA (3)

Preliminary activities for Sømæ consecration
The area of sømæ is determined so that it can accommodate a great number of monks, who are expected to assemble in the sømæ for religious events; if the premises of the monastery is not large enough, normally the area of sømæ is fixed sufficiently for the monks in that vicinity. All the works are under the monks’ management. After making full measurement of the space, the space is needed to be clear such as weeding, cutting the plants, removing any stumps or thorns or roots of the trees and making the ground even and smooth. The space is generally square in size which is lined up with white lime all around at edge and demarcated varieties of plots inside the square area on which the monks are separately sitting while the recitation of kammavæcæ is in progress. The purpose of lining up with white lime is to view clearly the spots at dawn and night owing to its process time. In general the process takes place early in the morning and late evening due to the weather. The minority of monks in Myanmar are still in the position of disliking landed the plots on the land of a new-born sømæ. The majority of Myanmar monks are, however, in fully agreement regarding the plots created on the sømæ land.  The demarcated spots vary depending on the preferences of elder monk who is leading the consecration activity. There are several ways of demarcating plots with lime liquid such as: the method of Kalyæ¼ø stone-inscription, Vinayæla³kæra treatise, keeping abreast, spiral form, moving to and fro, bee-swarm-shape, cross mark, diagonal stripes, and so on.

It is a tradition that the consecrated area must be marked by various objects. In consecration of a sømæ, the area of it is to be marked off with materials called nimitta that means "boundary marks". There are eight types of nimitta described in pæ¹i cannons, namely: the mark of mountain, stone, forest, tree, path, hill-lock, river and water. Any one of eight nimittas allowed by the Buddha is necessary to be placed at the edge of the boundary in eight directions and announced the name of nimitta exactly when a sømæ is being consecrated. Nowadays, however, only two kinds (stone-mark and water-mark) are mainly applied in Myanmar way of sømæ consecration. Even in above two, water-mark is more preferable as there is a huge of crucial issue on the subject of the stone-marks due to different ways of weight-measurement between modern time and ancient period. 

The canonical treatises merely said that the minimum size of stone for sømæ-nimitta must be practically in equivalent to 32 palas. This absolutely confused the monks concerning it at present time. One of the Thai learned monks states that:  “The rock not bigger than a buffalo’s head and not smaller than a weight of 32 palas equivalent to three kilograms approximately can be applied as a stone mark.” Myanmar way of thinking, on the other hand, differs even among scholarly monks. That is the rational main reason why stone-mark is less concerned rather than water-mark.

A chart about the different concepts of pala-measurement will be provided quoted from some books and calculated the exact weight contrasting pala with Myanmar weight and metric system.
Pā¹i tradition (Ancient India Weight)

Myanmar Weight
Metric System

Particular scholarly


32- pala
32- Pissās

(Shwe U Min
12.80- Pissās
1.60- Pissās
1.28- Pissās

For the water-marks, at the completion of setting plots on the land, several pits are to be dug commonly at the edge of boundary at eight directions in order to put water in them. Once sømæ consecration is being taken, the earth might be not soaked with water, so the water are supposed to be put in the particular pits one or two days in advance in order to be soaked with. If a little amount of water, about deep into the height of sitting frog, remains at the end of sømæ consecration, the consecration is completely successful. The way of using water in terms of nimitta is more convenient and driven away an uncertainty about being invalid of sømæ. The majority of Myanmar senior monks are fully in agreement the water-marks. When all preparations are in due course, the monks around the certain places are to be invited in order that the process of sømæ consecration is inaugurated. The amount of expenses for sømæ consecration ceremony is totally concerned with the numbers of monks to be invited. As a matter of fact, just a number of four monks present at function of it are sufficient to be successful, but if the more monks are present, the more convenient they are. If a smaller number of monks are taking the function, the procedure will take so long, and if a bigger number of monks perform the ceremony, the time duration will be reduced as the monks are responsible to recite kammavæcæ on each and every plot without letting miss any of them. Therefore in Myanmar the monks, as many as possible, are usually invited on the occasion of sømæ consecration. Negotiation, however, how much expense donor or devotees can afford and how many monks and people are intended to participate at the ceremony, is always done beforehand because monks are supposed to be offered requisites, alms-food, etc., and also the invited people have to be treated with meal and snacks.   Depending on their affordable expenses for it, the ceremony of sømæ consecration would be either well known or little known.


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