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  1. #1
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    sabang's Avatar
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    Becoming a Buddhist Monk, Isaan style

    Mrs sabangs cousin was recently ordained to be a Buddhist monk, and we were invited along to join the celebrations and make Tambon. I hadn't been to her village in rural Ubon Ratchathani province for about 3 years, so it seemed a good enough excuse to visit again. Even better, the celebrations were beginning the day after the TD soiree' in Korat, which made a very convenient stop along the way.

    Things start off the evening before the actual ceremony with a party. They love their parties out here, and everyone seemed to get well drunk.



    There was a Mow Lam band playing, at loud volume and through the usual tinny speaker system. I like Mow Lam, but not bad sound quality. What can you do but grin and bear it.







    The Monk to be, KK. KK is basically a rice farmer, but also has some cattle, water buffalo and the ubiquitous chickens around the house-



    The party continued on long after I called it a night- in fact some folks there partied all night. I wanted to be up bright and early for the next days proceedings though- well, at least this seemed a good excuse to escape the noise and drunken chaos.

    If you've been a 'special guest' in an Isaan village you probably know the drill- your glass is being constantly topped up, you can't even raise your glass without a chorus of "chok dee's", and they all want to drag you up to dance. It gets hard work after a while, frankly. Mrs sabang partied on heartily.
    probes Aliens

  2. #2
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    Becoming a monk is not quite the same as in the West- for a start, the whole affair is a lot more exuberant. Shortly after dawn the next day another band showed up- this time a percussion and pipe band, the beer and whisky was flowing again, and the band played away while I had my shower and morning coffee. Next thing you know, a procession started and they were on their way to the Wat.



    I followed, beer in hand. Heading the procession is the soon to be monk, shaded by a Village Elder.



    Everyone else following behind. A real festive spirit- plenty of dancing going on, and beer being drunk. Approaching the gates of the Wat now, after about a 2.5 km Isaan samba-



    Always a few Gawkers- not much else to do in an Isaan village.





    The Wat sits on a pleasant river. Ubon province has a load of rivers actually, it's quite different from the more barren plains of northern Isaan.



    I hadn't realised Lord Buddha rode a horse-



    Last edited by sabang; 28-03-2008 at 08:28 AM.

  3. #3
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    Great thread Sabang.

    Looks like you had a great time.

    Green sent and well deserved

  4. #4
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    Being ordained as a Buddhist monk is not necessarily a life or career decision. KK was becoming a monk for two weeks only- theres still rice to grow, and rainy season is approaching. His father passed away about two years ago, and this was his way of making sure he goes to Paradise (or so my wife explained). The year before, on roughly the first anniversary of his fathers death, the younger brother had done the same.

    The Procession circled the temple where KK was to be ordained three times, I took a bit of a look around and came across these- they look quite old.





    I wonder if they have any archaeological significance.

    Anyway, time for some happy snaps-



    Then into the Sanctum sanctorum to be ordained.



    Or so I thought. First, there is the throwing of the 'Holy Money', which is eagerly sought after by the assembled crowd-




  5. #5
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    And now the sacred stuff begins. The devout kneel outside the entrance-



    I take some happy snaps-



    The drunk sleep it off-



    The not so devout have a beer and a chat-





    The actual ordainment ceremony went on for around one hour. Coming up are some photo's of the actual ceremony, which I feel privileged to have been allowed to take.

  6. #6
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    In the Sanctum Sanctorum

    I was actually invited inside to take some photoes, but did not have the heart to do so- you are not meant to hold your head higher than a Buddhist monk anyway, this was a sacred occasion, and I doubt my beer breath would have added anything to the sanctity. I stole these from the door, but still felt pretty lucky-










    There was a lot of chanting, a lot of bowing before the image of Buddha- especially by the neophyte monk KK, and a lecture delivered by the Head monk.
    Then arise, newly ordained monk, and a bow or three to the inner Temple on the way out. Notice KK is now carrying an Alms bowl over his shoulder-



    I have to say, I like the way that the Wat and Buddhist life is intertwined with Village life. There is no obsessive secrecy or anything like that, and the whole occasion, whilst Holy, is also festive. It was a privilege to be there.

  7. #7
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    Have you noticed the size of KK? He's a big lad- apart from farming, he makes some useful currency on the side collecting debts for some of the local Nak Lehng- sort of the local mafia. Doesn't stop you becoming a monk obviously.

    Congratulations, new brother-



    An ordained Monk-


  8. #8
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    Now, the locals carry all of KK's 'possessions' to what will be his home for the next two weeks, while he blesses them or something like that-



    The women help carry, but cannot go into his humble abode. Temptation of the flesh no doubt -



    Home for the next fortnight-



    And a token arty shot to finish off with-



    As for the rest of us, some sloped off to do their daily chores or sleep off hangovers, we in KK's family continued partying. There are more shots to follow of Isaan Tamedah, and some faces of Isaan, but I will do these in another thread.

  9. #9
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    Great thread!

    What area of Ubon is it?

  10. #10
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    Wow, this is nice stuff! I went to an ordination in BKK, but I didn't see the party!

    Thanks for the thread!

  11. #11
    I am in Jail

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    Thanks, SB. Great photos and notes.

  12. #12
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    Really nice photos.

    I also wonder about the loose sema stones that you see sitting around most every wat. One wonders just how old they are.

  13. #13
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    Thanks guys. The area ( Don Mot Daeng) is about 35km NE from Ubon Ratchathani city, in the direction of Trakan. Very few westerners out here, certainly none in the village. Not too far to either Laos or Cambodia.

  14. #14
    Thailand Expat Texpat's Avatar
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    Nice pics Sabang. Interesting story. I like the thought of being a man of the cloth for just a few weeks.

    I might consider it for a few hours. Do they have a short course?

  15. #15
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    Actually there are a few quite famous Wats in Ubon province that are well known for taking on farangs Tex. These are more Buddhist retreat kind of places than village Wats. I wouldn't rule it out myself one day- although I reckon they'll want more than a few hours.

    One thing I forgot to mention- for the duration of ones time as a Monk, you are given, and go by, a different name. I'd like to be called Grasshopper.

  16. #16
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    Nice pics and commentary.

    As an aside, am guessing that MrsSabang is the attractive young lady wearing whitish clothes, white hairband, and sunglasses (in the daytime group photo).

  17. #17
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    ^ Thats one of her cousins actually zip. There are several photoes of Mrs sabang in some of my other threads.

  18. #18
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    She seemed 'western-influenced', thus the guess.

    Umm, you can tell her that she has a secret admirer

  19. #19
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    Bump.

    Well KK's out of the Wat now, and back to his normal life.
    When asked how his experience as a monk was KK, a man of few words, just said he couldn't wait to get out! Amazing Thailand.

  20. #20
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    Easy way to get a visa
    Good posts

  21. #21
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    That kind of party were a lot of fun. I have a cloudy memory of dancing in such a procession. Drinking beer and lao kao in the sun has some serious effect.

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