Candles for Buddhist Lent
Likay... Dramatic Performance of Thai Life
Story by Nam Prung
Buddhist monks and novices on their daily dawn alms round, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
- It is a tradition for Thai Buddhist men aged 20 or more to enter monkhood. This ordination is seen as a way for them to show gratitude to their parents, as it is a Thai belief that parents will go to heaven by grasping their son's saffron robe.
- During their monkhood, young men have a chance to undergo spiritual training and learn about Buddhism and other fields of study. This is because ordination means to study and perform religious activities to gain merit for themselves and their parents.
- A candidate for monkhood is called a Nak. A young man is ordained a Nak before he can become a monk.
- The Nak wears white robe which connotes purity. His ordination is usually a joyous occasion; in rural villages a colorful procession bringing the white-robed Nak to the temple for the ordination ceremony is often accompanied by joyous dancing and the beating of long drums.
- Before he is ordained into monkhood, the aspiring monk is allowed to reside in the temple as a layman, to train in matters relating to devotional service and how to wear the saffron robe. The ordination usually takes place one month before the start of the
Buddhist Lent. Parents take their son to see the officiating monks with offerings of flowers, candles and joss sticks. If the son is qualified, the time for the ordination will be arranged.
- The tradition has beenpracticed since the Sukhothai Period as a part of the Thai way of life. Apart from expressing gratitude to parents and having a chance to study Buddhism,
the ordination is also meant to purify one's mind. A man who has been a monk is traditionally considered a mature adult who is capable of leading a good life with thoughtfulness and wisdom.
Return to the main page