Sunday, 2 May 2010

Monk ordination ceremony in Saraburi

Here are some recent shots from a ceremony in which two local lads (one of whom I regularly play football with) went into the local temple as monks for a short time, usually anything up to three months.

Around this time of the year - before the Buddhist retreat - this type of ceremony occurs regularly across the country. In pledging to become monks, albeit temporarily, the men bestow great honour on their families...the elder members of which are often reduced to tears. See a good description here.

As with most things in Thailand it is an excuse to get up early (the procession came past our house at 7.00 am), dress up, dance to ridiculously loud music and eat/drink copious amounts - marvellous stuff then.

It's worth noting that invitations are open. Something which, having attended a fair few events in Thailand, my foreign brain still cannot get to grips with. It feels awkward arriving at a bash, celebrating and eating/drinking their food when you're not know to most people and weren't invited - but people here don't care - "the more the merrier", they're usually especially pleased to have a farang (and camera to pose for) about.

On arrival the band is setting up (more on this later)...

The alter is prepared...btw, check out the clock to see just how early a start this is (I literally rolled out of bed for it).

The ceremony kicks off with the guys - heads already shaved - lighting candles to begin with a prayer.

The prayers continue with family, friends, neighbours and uninvited (but welcomed) guests like myself watching over proceedings.

Most people are, however, outside like these shady fellows (who begged for a photo) - soaked in whiskey, fag smoke and morning sunshine - waiting for the boring stuff to finish and the dancing to begin.

The little fella (yes that is a monkey on his back) is on the end of plenty of attention, as ever, while those outside await the next phase.

Prayers over, the two soon-to-be monks are ushered outside from where the group will begin a parade around the temple with singing, dancing and music.

The festivities begin...

The bad is out in full force.

Thais are unique in being able to dance reasonably well on demand, not matter their shape, size or appearance.

The procession then heads for this temple building where the new monks will be ordained.

The little fella poses.

The procession heads over to the temple building which it will dance around three times before the official ceremonial duties begin.

But first there is the procession and dancing.

The crazy guy with the shades if my friend Noi (น้อย) who is one of my missus' cousins. He's your typical whiskey-swigging chap who is always at the centre of the party.

The processions winds it way around the temple building.

The most important part of the parade and celebrations are two monks-in-waiting, shielded from the sun by a set of umbrellas.

A number of the temple's resident monks head over to begin preparations for the final part of the ceremony, after which my friend and his pal will become monks for a short period of time.

More dancing...

Meanwhile the dancing continues...

We left before the final ceremony in which the new monks are ordained - it was just too hot and too early - but came back for some food. Rude at home? Yes, but acceptable out here in Thailand.


Mike said...

Jon it looks fun. Glad you posted as I am "official photographer"(read farang with decent camera who will pay for prints) at a cousins(MTF's) ordination next Sunday/Monday up in Samut Sakhon.

Apparently we have to get up at 5am on the day of ordination-like right!

No doubt I will have a tale or two to share.

Like your photographs, which have given me a couple of ideas.

Jon said...

Hi Mike,

Is definitely interesting, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. A good excuse to dust out the camera, not that it takes much in Thailand.

Timing sounds about right, guess I was lucky with an 7am wake-up call.

Look forward to the photos - apparently I take too many 'wannabe-professional' photos according to the wife. Ordinarily I'd agree but this bunch are fairly decent I thought.

Jon said...

Incidentally, the photos rendering pretty awfully on the blog so I've finally acted on the urge to change the template.

Look much better now.

Just need to find a more image-accommodating template.

Mike said...

Jon talking about templates I am playing around with the new template generator on blogger in draft-its a bit buggy but good fun.

This is a test blog I put together to test some of the features.

I'm just playing around but ideally I want to create a better photo blog layout/look.

Martyn said...

Jon it looks like fun and I'm well impressed with the photos, black and white amongst colour looks great.

The Thai chap in the group photo and one of the others(the one with the long hair and shades) looks like Loso, my favourite Thai singer.

Playing football in this must be mad.

Jon said...

Hey Martyn,

Thanks. The other told me I should take photos properly and stop trying to be a pro, but I thought they came out ok.

I often ask myself why I bother with the football when I'm coated in sweat, lagging behind the Thai fitness levels and being mocked from the sidelines for being farang - that's just after 2 minutes.

Seriously though, gotta love a bit of footie with the locals. Potential blog there I guess.

Will pass the compliment on to Noi, am sure it will go to his head.Ha ha...