A three-minute walk from my building towards the river would bring me to a pier where I can take a water taxi along the Chao Phraya. What makes that pier unique is the abundant number of fish swimming just inches below the muddy surface. They look like catfish to me, albeit way larger. Around the pier are ladies selling bags of bread crumbs, which people feed the fish. The moment a speck of bread lands on the water the fish go on a frenzy. Mouths agape and their fins in full force, the fish just goes totally berserk as more crumbs is thrown in the water. At times, the riverside mayhem would cause water to splash on the sides of the pier.
Hordes of people actually come to this pier solely on the purpose of feeding the fish. No wonder those fish are humongous from all the carbohydrates they’re eating. Meanwhile, pigeons forage on the bits of bread left from the hysteria.
Yesterday, on my way to the pier, I took pictures of these spindly, snake-like kind of fish (maybe eels?) swimming in a basin of water. Another species looked like smaller catfish. I’ve always thought that these were for sale as food. They were kept alive to preserve their freshness, I figured. I was dumbstruck however when a girl brought several bags of these live snake-like fish. She went to the pier, opened the bags, and released the fish into the water.
And so I thought that feeding the fish or releasing them in the water is a Buddhist practice. True enough, I read that “the release of animals, particularly birds or fish, into their natural environment (is) an important way of demonstrating Buddhist piety” (Wikipedia).
Very fascinating, don’t you think?