Controversial Thai Buddhist sect dazzles with annual procession
BANGKOK Thousands of devotees of a powerful Thai Buddhist sect, whose spiritual leader is on the run over a multi-million-dollar fraud, joined a stunning candle-lit procession at their 1,000-acre Bangkok headquarters.
The Dhammakaya sect, a wealthy Buddhist order founded in 1970, was steered to riches by the septuagenarian monk Phra Dhammachayo.
He won the devotion of superrich Thai politicians and businessmen and with it, the distrust of Thailand's Buddhist establishment.
The former abbot was the subject of a massive hunt of the Dhammakaya temple complex in 2017, where he was believed to be holed-up to evade arrest over allegations of money laundering and an embezzlement of US$33 million (S$45 million).
The monk, 72 at the time, vanished after a search which lurched into a farce and saw officers led through hundreds of rooms - including a chamber where they pulled back a bed cover to find pillows instead of the elderly monk.
Police eventually concluded he may have slipped out of the temple in the early days of their weeks-long search.- AFP