Today marks the beginning of what would be akin to Buddhist Lent. For the next three months monks will reside at one temple and will not travel to others unless it is an emergency. Traditionally, the purpose of this was so monks could avoid having to travel during the rainy season. Nowadays it’s less of an issue since we have transportation. Crowds of people flock to the local temples to make offerings and merit. This is known here as “tham boon”. It goes a little something like this.
Get to your local temple or temple of your choice and don’t forget to take your shoes off before you enter. Most locals wear some sort of slip on shoes since Thai culture is big about taking shoes off before entering homes and temples. As if I don’t stick out enough, there’s my bright white size 9 Pumas sitting in the middle of all the flip flops. Make your way over to the offering table and grab a candle, 3 sticks of incense (thoop) and a flower. Light the candle and the incense from the large cauldron sitting next to the shrine. Place the candle in the offering tray, kneel down and put the three sticks of incense and flower between your palms in a prayer gesture. Now say your devotions. When you finish, place the flower at the foot of the Buddha and put your three sticks of incense in the bowl amongst the others. Finally go strike a gong three times and you’re done. Bonus points if you inconspicuously capture some photos for your travel blog. Believe me when I say I’m trying to do everything I can to not look like a foreign jackass.
Headed back to my hotel to enjoy the rest of the day off from the toil of heat, crowds, and high emission vehicles. Upon entering my room I came across a note which gave me a good chuckle. Perhaps what I found most amusing wasn’t that today was a “no alcohol day”, rather the civil rights uproar a move like this would cause back at home. As “The Most Interesting Man” would say….”Stay thirsty my friends”.
Be well and Buddha bless _/|\_