Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blessings and Good wishes

On the 23rd December nine ceremonial seats appeared in the hotel reception. We were informed that the monks were coming the next day to perform the ceremony to bless and wish good fortune on the hotel. All guests were invited. First they would have the Islamic ceremony, then the Hindu and then the Buddhist. All services would take place around reception where a Christmas tree stood: this is the way the world should be.

After breakfast Husband and I went to have a look. We were invited to sit down. We saw the end of the Hindu service and then joined the Buddhist ceremony. We watched the whole thing and it was brilliant: a real privilege.

Buddhist Monks do not own things and so the Thai people give them necessities. People can buy a monk box in the shops here: it’s yellow and full of various essential items. Monks go out in the morning with their alms bowl to collect food. The hotel had prepared monk boxes and food and these were handed over as part of the ceremony. Water was blessed and the amulets from the Hindu service were blessed by the Monks (both Husband and I were given one each). The nine monks chanted. I can’t describe it. It was beautiful, not singing, definitely chanting … The monks unravelled some string and passed it over the items they were blessing and then they passed it along to the end of the row of monks – normally the string goes around the building – but it hasn’t here.

As a woman, I am not allowed to touch or make eye contact with the monks. As a Western woman … is this hard? A bit, yes, but I believe as a guest here in Thailand one has to respect their ways – or get off home. Everyone was taking pictures – all the staff – and I checked several times with different people because it felt … disrespectful … like religious tourism. In the end I tried not to worry.

Eventually the main monk got up. He was elderly and had a stick. He took the water that their ceremony had blessed and with some fine sticks tied together like a brush, he flicked it over us all. He couldn’t see so well so the manager walked with him holding his arm. As he got to us (Husband on the end of the row) he said ‘Ah, Farang’ (white foreigner.) We wai-ed to him. (Thai greeting: hands together like in prayer and you bow.) The monk asked Husband if he could speak Thai and H said ‘a little bit.’ They talked a little in Thai about how long we had been here. It was confused by Husband thinking he meant in Thailand and the Monk meant at the hotel!

All the time I couldn’t look at the Monk, although I desperately wanted to. I kept my eyes on his saffron robes and wai-ed. The Monk put his hand on Husband’s arm; he held it there to greet him and moved it a little because he hadn’t the words … And then the Monk said in slow but perfect English ‘I am so pleased to see you here.’

Quite suddenly I was shaking and my eyes were watering.




8 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

Beautiful write-up

Debs said...

Wow, what an incredible experience.

HelenMH said...

You are so right - if only more people in the world could treat each other with such respect and understanding, it would be a much better place.

Leigh said...

And so are mine...
Blimey, JJ. What an experience.
I have a great respect for Buddhism.

I like the detail of the Christmas tree amongst the Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist ceremonies!

marmiteandtea said...

What an amazing thing to get to experience.

SueG said...

Beautiful, JJ. Thanks!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Oh, JJ, you so can write. You brought that to life for me. Thank you.

liz fenwick said...

Beautiful