Wednesday, January 20, 2010

SWU Economics Department Ceremony Serves Lunch to Local Buddhist Monks

The Chief Monk ended the ceremony by sprinkling everyone with holy water. It will bring us good fortune.
Students enjoying lunch after the ceremony.

At 11 a.m. January 20, 2010, the SWU Economics Department held a ceremony on the 8th floor of the Central Library to make merit and bring good fortune by feeding local monks. This ceremony is held about once each year at the option of the individual academic departments. The econ. faculty explained to me that they want to teach their students about this ceremony and Thai tradition.

Nine monks were honored, as nine is the prescribed lucky number for this event. Students in their uniforms of white shirts and black pants (males) or skirts (females), faculty, and other guests took their shoes off outside the door and entered to sit on floor mats. The monks in saffron robes, each with a palm-leaf, fan-like object, entered and sat at the front on cushions with stadium-type backs. A white string was passed down the line for all the monks to hold during the ceremony. The chief monk sat on the audience's left and began the program with chanting in unison, then call and response. This took about 20 minutes (a long time for any westerner to sit on the floor with my legs folded to one side with soles pointing away from the monks). This is protocol, however, so I managed without too much wiggling. Donations of Thai Baht for the monk's work was part of the ceremony towards the end. An econ. faculty member then gave the monks gifts, everyone rose, and the monks were ushered to seats at a table, where the students served them a fine Thai meal. All this had to be done before noon, after which monks don't eat until the next morning, when they go out to seek food and other alms from residents of their area. Seeking alms is part of their daily routine. Once the monks finished eating, everyone returned to their seats for a short time for more chanting. Large fruit baskets were presented to each monk, and the ceremony ended.

The students and other guests then ate a lunch of the same foods that had been served to the monks.

Another fascinating ceremony. I'm glad I was here for it.

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