Religion: 90-Day Priests

The moon had waned, the seasonal rains had begun to fall, it was time for the planting of rice, and throughout the Far East last week, Buddhists were bowed in prayer. They had flocked to their temples carrying offerings of flowers and incense, and many had journeyed to Nakorn Pathom (meaning First City), 40 miles west of Bangkok, to honor the local temple's huge, pumpkin-colored, glazed stupa (tower) that marks the site of Buddhism's establishment in Thailand 21 centuries ago. The occasion: Purima Pansa, the three-months-long Buddhist Lent that gives many of the devout a chance to live in a monastery...