According to Thai ancient beliefs, Benjaphed is a period of major upheaval in your life, coinciding with reaching the age of 25. Thais believe that this is a year of misfortune and disaster, filled with negative effects on your life, and extra care must be taken to sidestep these unfortunate circumstances.
This belief has been passed down through the generations, reminding people to be mindful of the turning points in their life and to apply themselves to the pursuit of becoming better people, under the coercion of death.
Those who pass, however, may still not be spared the agony of misfortune. They may still meet with sickness, accidents, injury, or separation from their partners and loved ones.
There is also some variation in the parameters of Benjaphed across the different schools of Astrology. Some might believe that Benjaphed actually begins at 13 years old, and every successive 12 years after. The source of this numerical series is the natural cycle of the Sun and the planet Jupiter. For the first 12 years of a person’s life, their existence may not be influenced by cosmic energy radiating from above.
At 13, the body’s elemental system is reorganized, refreshing the elemental cycle and allowing it to be influenced by the cosmos. This is one of the reasons why so many cultures consider the number 13 unlucky. The elemental energies, however, are not exceedingly powerful at this stage yet, and only minor misfortune may occur.
At 25, an entirely new elemental system is formed, causing serious turmoil. This is the strongest cycle of Benjaphed, because it is the first, and the largest astrological influence on life, and affects the individual physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
The proceeding Benjaphed may bring with them minor misfortune, but none as drastic as the age of 25. The orientation of planets is only periodically reorganized, concluding at age 61 when Jupiter moves to occupy a new elemental star. The Chinese, in this instance, took the opportunity to ceremonially move the “Saeyit
This is similar to the Japanese belief of Yakudoshi (厄年), or the age of misfortune. The belief began in the Heian period (794-1185) and claims that bad things will happen to men at the ages of 25, 42 and 61. In women, these bad tidings are believed to occur at 19, 33 and 37 years old. These are referred to as Honyaku (本厄).
These varying systems of belief, however, seem to agree on one common age, 25. It would be prudent to take extra precautions when approaching this age.
There exist, however, a multitude of ways to lessen or even negate the effects of Benjaphed. Some of these methods are as follows:
- Offering a pair of items to the temple, such as a pair of candles, a pair of vases, a pair of flags, a pair of pillows. It is believed that offerings made in pairs will help bolster your romantic pursuits against the universe’s ill will.
- Partake in the morning food offering made to the monks, together with a wedding couple.
- Regularly give garlands of Dahlia and Jasmine.
- Planting Rak (Asian Lacquer Trees) trees in the temple area, but avoid planting them in the vicinity of your house
- Maintain the 4 Immeasurables; Loving-kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic joy, and Equanimity.
- Make merit to alleviate Karma, uphold the precepts and practice Buddhist Meditation
- Release 3 or 9 turtles every 7 days, on 5 successive occasions
For financial problems, or those who require intervention in their career and businesses
- Pay respects to Phra Phrom, requesting success in work.
- Pay homage to the Buddha.
- Pay homage to the deity you worship at home, arrange fruit and flowers, as well as worship the image of the Buddha at home.
- Pay homage to King Rama 5, requesting success in work and offering pink roses and 9 incense sticks each time.
- Release captive Eels. It is believed that they will help your life flow smoothly.
Although the beliefs surrounding these unfortunate periods of life vary across cultures and beliefs, they hold the same significance. They encourage young people on the cusp of adulthood to pay attention to their lives and take proactive steps to improve them. These steps serve to reinforce mindfulness during periods of Benjaphed and restore general peace of mind, and an important step in overcoming adversity.
The most important thing, however, is to always remain self-aware, and pursue excellence and positive practices in every aspect of your lives. Keep making merit, and do not cause undue trouble or hurt to others. This is perhaps, your best defence against the great big unknown.
“In fact, regardless of age, we should live life without negligence”