Being ordained as a Buddhist Monk is something that nearly all Thai men do at some point in their lives and the age-old ordination ceremony is always very special. But how it is carried out can differ greatly in different parts of the country.
The ordination ceremony in the village of Ban Non Salao in the Northeastern province of Chaiyaphum sees the Naga, or Nak, (which is the word used for a young man just before he is ordained), sit on a bamboo litter which is then carried by his relatives to the local temple. But on route, the Nak’s relatives will test his resolution for joining the monkhood by shaking the litter, often quite energetically and the monk-to-be has to hold on tightly.
Witnesses may think it is the ordination parade looks very brutal but local people believe that this endurance test is like a proof of their real intent and determination to become Buddhist monks. Although those fall off from the bamboo stretcher cannot enter the monkhood, but, since the commencement of this ceremony over 40 years ago, there have never been anyone falling from the bamboo stretcher before. So everyone could become the Buddhist monk.
In recent years the parade of the young monks has become quite a spectacle and tourists are always welcome to enjoy this little slice of rather boisterous Thainess.
Photo: ‘Extreme ordination parade of naga’ by Manoon Pongpanpath