After looking at a monk, have you ever wondered about the ordination process these guys went through when they were younger? Most boys in Thailand have entered monastic life at least once in their lives. It is almost mandatory because the belief is that his mother will go to heaven because of it. The coronation process is lively and certainly colorful, if not a bit intimidating for the boy.
First comes the head shaving ceremony. Yes, this is a big deal. How would you feel if you have to shave all your hair right down to the skin? Not only that, the eyebrows are shaved too! The boy’s family will take turns cutting some of his head hair. It is not allowed to touch the ground; instead it is placed on a lotus leaf. Why? Because the relatives will keep it and float it away three days after the ordination process for luck. Having a clean shaved head stems from Buddha’s time, when long hair was considered to be of royalty. So Buddha cut his off to show his detachment from materialism.
Alright, back to the boy. After a shower, he will be paraded around town in white garments, signifying his first steps into monkhood. After that, the young man enters the local temple and listens to a chanting session. After the chants, the sermon in the monastery provides advice to everyone at the temple. This concludes the first day’s proceedings.
The next day is where it can become even more colorful. Note that just about anybody, even perfect strangers are welcome. And all will revel in the party-like atmosphere, complete with music, drinks and food. Of course, the monk can’t be there. He must resist temptation and not give in to materialism, parties included. And to further prove this point, he will throw coins over his shoulders. This is the final stamp! Observers may want to scramble for them – they are considered good luck.
Now comes the hard part. All the studying and preparation will come into play now. Yes, the young man has to perform chants. This is very intimidating and is not as easy as it sounds. It requires lots and lots of studying and memorization. The chants themselves are also not in Thai, but in ancient Pali which makes it even more difficult to remember. The white garments on the young man are then exchanged for the orange clad ones. Then, he would repeat after a senior monk vowing to honor the precepts (the fundamental code of ethics for monks), which is again done in Pali. Finally, the young man is declared a monk.
Immerse yourself in the local religion with this unique day trip with our Morning with the Monks day trip in Chiang Mai. The day starts early as you give alms to walking monks. Then receive your private blessing in the temple and conclude your spiritual adventure with a discussion. Perhaps you might ask him how it was like when he was ordained as a boy? This is a great extension to our Chiang Mai Insight tour, where you’ll truly discover the charm of Lanna culture.