Saturday, May 3, 2014

Monk Ordination Ceremony

The decision of a young man to become a Buddhist monk is usually made to make merit for his family, is extremely important to Thai people. The making of merit, the Thais believe, is always rising and falling in one's life and that merit and goodness determine a person's level of existence at any moment in time. The making of merit can come in the form of feeding fish, donating money to the poor, or volunteering your time to become a monk. Becoming a monk in Thailand requires adhering to strict moral precepts, living a rigorous lifestyle of the daily collection of alms from the local community in the early morning hours and hours of prayers and meditation and of course doing chores around the temple.

Any man can become a monk in Thailand. To become a monk, a man should be at least 20 years old, he must be able to read and write, and he must study and understand the precepts for being a monk. He is given an examination, and if he passes, he is given a certificate of entry to the monkhood by the district head in his province. On the day of ordination, his head and eyebrows are shaved, he is given a white robe, and this is celebrated at the temple with his family and friends. Any ordained monk may leave the order at any time he chooses simply by informing the abbot at his temple. A monk in Thailand is treated with great respect, and the institution itself is highly revered and sanctioned by the government. The government encourages businesses to give time off to their employees who may want to be a monk for a short time and provide pay leave, which is a tax deduction for the business. Others may make it a lifelong vocation.

I was invited to a Monk Ordination Ceremony by a good friend who was becoming a monk for 3 weeks.  I was able to take both video and photos of the entire event which is in two main parts, the head shaving ceremony and the main ordination event.

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