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Vessantara Reconsidered

Dienstag, 3. April 2018, 19:00 Uhr bis 20:30 Uhr

The Thai-Lao people of Northeast Thailand have transformed the Prince Vessantara story into an annual festival celebrating their allegiance to Theravada Buddhism and the Thai monarchy. Prince Vessantara, because of his overwhelming drive to make merit by giving everything, including the symbols of the kingdom, away, is banished by his father, the King. However, in his next rebirth, Prince Vessantara will be reborn as Siddhartha who becomes The Buddha, the Awakened One. Over the past four decades, Dr. Lefferts has charted the transformation of this festival in Northeast Thailand. In this talk, he will recount the story, the importance of the long, painted cloth scrolls in the Museum’s exhibition, and his experiences of living in a Thai-Lao village. Most importantly, he has witnessed the increasing importance of the festival as a ceremony of individual and community merit-making, celebrating the success of Prince Vessantara at the same time as the people celebrate the possibility of better rebirths in their own lives.

MitLecture by Dr. Leedom Lefferts, Visiting Scholar, University of North Carolina, and Prof. em. of Anthropology, Drew University.
Ort Völkerkundemuseum, Pelikanstrasse 40, 8001 Zürich
Raum: Hörsaal, PEA
VeranstalterVölkerkundemuseum Universtiät Zürich
KontaktGrazia Cantele (Mail)