A few of the 12,600 Buddhist monks that gathered in Bangkok's shopping district to celebrate Vesak Day sit at an alms offering ceremony. Vesak Day is the annual celebration of Lord Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death.
A mere 2,600 years ago, almost to the day, India's 35-year-old prince Siddhattha emerged from a deep contemplation beneath a bodhi tree. Something was different. After six years wandering in the valley of the Ganges River, the spiritual seeker had reached enlightenment.
During the intervening centuries, the Buddha's teachings of compassion have spread around the globe, which is not to say the world has adopted the peaceful Middle Path.
The monks in Bangkok, aside from observing Vesak Day, were assembled to send moral support to monks and novices in Thailand's Muslim-majority south, where violence has plagued the holy men since at least 2004.