Making merit is an important traditional Buddhist practice and there are many ways of merit making in Thailand. Apart from money donation to the temple, school or the local charity origination, making merit by releasing the animals from the confines of a cage, or giving them freedom is typically done.
The original idea is coming from the traditional rural communities. In the dry season, rice fields and small ponds would dry out so the fish become trapped. The villagers save the lives of the fish by releasing them into a nearby canal or river. In other way, it is practiced by buying animals that would be killed such as a cow from the slaughterhouse, and set them free.
Over the times, this animal release in order to make merit tradition is still continuing. When you visit some temples in Thailand, you will see many vendors selling animal such as turtles, fish, eels and birds. They can be purchased and released into the nearby river.
People usually release animals on special occasions such as birthday or during serious illness. As you can see in the picture, there are lots of animals you can release. Each animal serve for a different purpose and different form of luck.
If you wish to release some animal, you can follow these simple guidelines on what types of animals to release for what purpose and how many of them to release. Thais believe that your practice of releasing lives will be beneficial for yourself and your loved ones.
|Eel (ปลาไหล)||To help your finance, work and study to be smooth||20 baht|
|Climbing Perch (ปลาหมอ)||To help your health to be strong||10 baht|
|Black Catfish (ปลาดุกดำ)||To help you overcome your enemies||10 baht|
|Albio catfish (ปลาดุกเผือก)||To bring you good things||20 baht|
|Striped catfish (ปลาสวาย)||To help your finance, work, study to be smooth with no problem||20 baht|
|Moonlight Gourami (ปลากระดี่นางฟ้า)||To help you meet good friends and good things in your life||10 baht|
|Spotted Head Fish (ปลากราย)||To change the bad things into the good things||20-30 baht|
|Striped Snack-Head Fish (ปลาช่อน)||To bring you more money||20-100 baht|
|Giant snakehead (ปลาชะโด)||To help you be boss||30 baht|
|Nile Tilapia (ปลานิล)||To bring you money and wealth||20 baht|
|Red Tilapao (ปลาทับทิม)||To help your love||30 baht|
|Goby (ปลาบู่)||To repay the kindness||10 baht|
|Turtles or soft-shell turtles (เต่า)||To give you a long life, and end sickness and streaks of bad luck||10-20 baht|
|Pond Snail (หอยขม)||To take away the unhappiness||20-50 baht|
|Bird (นก)||To open up new opportunities||20-50 baht|
|Frog (กบ)||To make amends to deceased ones for past wrongs or offense||20-50 baht|
A number of animals to be released depends on your birthday.
|Day||Animals||How many you need to release|
|Sunday||Eel (ปลาไหล)||6-9 pcs|
|Monday||Striped Snack-Head Fish (ปลาช่อน), Bird (นก)||15 pcs|
|Tuesday||Moonlight Gourami (ปลากระดี่นางฟ้า),Pond Snail (หอยขม)||8 pcs|
|Wednesday (Day)||Black Catfish (ปลาดุกดำ)||17 pcs|
|Wednesday (Night)||Giant snakehead (ปลาชะโด)||12 pcs|
|Thursday||Striped catfish (ปลาสวาย), Turtle (เต่า)||19 pcs|
|Friday||Climbing Perch (ปลาหมอ)||21 pcs|
|Saturday||Goby (ปลาบู่)||10 pcs|
Releasing animals, Merit or sin?
Nowadays, one big concern is that the animals are trapped and sold for people to release, while the hunters will trap and begin the cycle all over again.
Additionally, the releases can grow problems for example the animals may die after release because of unsuitable habitats or the harm of the entire ecosystem. It is important to release only animals that are native to the local environment.