A really short post before I get stuck into a longer entry on Songkran, the Thai New Year which has just finished. The only reason I have included this mini-story is that it is another example of the constant things of interest that happen in the village without having to make much of an effort.
We were just having a cold drink in the garden after a day of clearing up after our house construction when conflicting loud music in the next street made it pretty obvious something was going on. “Someone make monk” was Gaun’s comment, who seems to know everything that’s going on in the village even though she doesn’t involve herself in the community too much.
We walked over to be met by separate processions for two new monks, both heading to the temple after doing the rounds of the village. Becoming a monk in Thailand is a big thing and happens regularly. This is the second new monk event I have seen in the last few days so being ordained during the New Year period must be a good timing.
“Serving in the monkhood is an ideal for all males in Thailand. Although many young men continue to become official members of the Sangha, as the monkhood is called, for many others it is not practical or not possible due to family financial obligations. The three-month Buddhist Retreat is a time when the new monks are initiated into the order, and it is a time when many young men, and older men, who can not become full-fledged monks engage in a short period of service.”
“Entering the monkhood is called “buat pra” In order to become a monk, a man must be 20 years old, he must be able to read and write, and he must study the rules and precepts for novices. He is given an examination, and if he passes, he is given a certificate of entry to the monkhood by the district head in his province. In most cases, a new monk is ordained just before or at the beginning of the Buddhist Retreat.”
The second group was close behind almost creating a traffic jam in the village as they waited for the first procession to get ahead so the music didn’t mix up too much.
“On the day of ordination. his head and eyebrows are shaved, he dons a white robe, and he is accompanied to the temple by his family and friends, Once he arrives, he becomes a ‘naga’, a name out of Hindu mythology which is used because according to a story, a naga (member of a Hindu serpent race) entered a monastery in human form once in order to be ordained a monk and therefore take a quicker path to becoming a real human, subverting the paths of reincarnation.
During the ordination ceremony, he is asked a series of questions :
- Do you have Leprosy? (No)
- Do you have boils? (No)
- Do you have ringworm? (No)
- Do you have tuberculosis? (No);
- Are you epileptic? (No);
- Are you human? (Yes);
- Are you male? (Yes)
- Are you free of debt? (Yes);
- Are you released from government service? (Yes);
- Do your parents permit you to become a monk? (Yes);
- Are you 20 years old? (Yes);
- Do you have your robes and your alms bowl? (Yes).
If these questions are answered truthfully and correctly, he is ordained.”
I had three glasses of water poured down my back, several invitations to join the dancing and all in all it was a lovely break in the day. Canberra was never like this!
Thanks for reading.
My thanks to http://www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com/becoming_a_monk_in_thailand.html for the words on becoming a monk in Thailand. You can read the full description from this link.