The event was the third and largest of its kind since 2015 and comes as one of the organisers, the Thailand-based Dhammakaya foundation, attempts to bounce back from an embezzlement scandal more than two years ago.
The Dhammakaya temple’s massive compound in northern Bangkok was under siege for two weeks in early 2017 as thousands of officers try to arrest the sect’s spiritual leader.
Phra Dhammachayo was accused of colluding in a $33 million embezzlement scheme and was believed to be hiding somewhere on the temple’s sprawling 1,000 acre grounds, an area twice the size of Monaco.
Critics said the abbot distorted traditional Buddhist morality by encouraging materialism and spiritual rewards for donations.
But devotees point to the temple’s accessible meditation methods to explain its popularity.