Daily Archives: April 16, 2005

Shaving Hair Ceremony

It has now come to the time for Nattawud to ordain as a monk. Most Thai men do this once they become of age. Nattawud isn’t actually 20 yet. However, they are, apparently, allowed to count the time spent in their mother’s womb! Thai men are not considered to be mature adults until they have become monks for a period of time. Thai people call those people “unripe”. Once they have become a monk and left the monkhood, they are then called “thit”. Thai men in government jobs are legally allowed to take three months leave of absence to become a monk. Most do this during Buddhist lent which starts in July. During lent no-one is allowed to leave the monkhood. As Nattawud’s birthday is in July his family decided to bring the ceremony forward to this month.

The first part of the ordination that I will talk about today is the hair shaving. Preceding this, Nattawud paid respect to his dead ancestors and then bathed the feet of his elders. In the photo on the right are his grandparents (on his father’s side), his grandmother (the one he calls mother) and his parents. Once he had finished, he prostrated himself at their feet.

Then his elders and other relations all took turns in cutting a piece of his hair. At the same time they gave him a blessing for a prosperous future. Notice the lotus leaf in the left hand picture. None of the hair is allowed to drop to the ground. This is exactly what happened to Nattawud during his fire-hair shaving ceremony when he was a baby 20 years ago. In the next photo the monk has taken over to cut off the remainder of his hair.

Cutting of the hair is symbolic. In the old days, long hair was a sign of royalty. Siddharta, before he became enlightened and therefore the Buddha, cut off his hair as a renouncement of all his worldly goods. Apparently, cutting the eyebrows is more of a Thai tradition and monks in other countries do not follow this practice. Next, everyone took turns in pouring water over his head and body, again giving him a blessing. Finally, some herbs, which are yellow when mixed with water, are rubbed all over his head. I am not sure if there is any significance of using this plant but it apparently helps your hair grow again later. Looks like he will have a hairy chest later!

After he took a shower, he then changed into his white clothes. The outer garment is a bit like net curtains with a gold trimming! Very dandy. At least he didn’t have to wear makeup like they do in northern ordinations. At this point he is now known as “naak” or “naga” in English. This is a mythical serpent from Indian legends. The story goes that one day the serpent disguised himself as a human in order to be ordained as a monk. When the Buddha found out, he told the naga that only humans can become monks. The naga agreed to leave the monkhood but asked the Buddha for one favour. He asked that in future, all young men who were about to be ordained be called “naga”. The Buddha consented.

After the hair shaving ceremony was over, Nattawud got into the back of a pickup truck to parade around the local area. The idea was to show the spirits that he was about to become a monk. Along the way he stopped at two shrines. As far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with Buddhism. This is quite typical in Thai ceremonies which mix together both Buddhism and Brahmin. Once the spirits had been informed of the upcoming ordination, Nattawud returned to the temple for some chanting and a sermon. I will write about that tomorrow.

Related Links:

Photo Album for Shaving Hair Ceremony – a selection of 74 photos of this ceremony
I Was A Novice Monk – Nattawud’s story about being a novice when his grandfather died
Fire Hair Shaving – Nattawud has his hair cut off by a monk when he was a baby
Grace’s Fire Hair Shaving – Nattawud’s daughter has her first hair cut

A New Blog on the Block

Sawasdee Krab,

My name is David but everyone calls me Wit and this is my first blog ever for Thai-Blogs.com. Online my screen name is Thaiphile, for those of you not sure exactly this is the english defination for what that means.

This is me and no I am not cute and furry.

Sometimes people ask me what Thaiphile means and I explain it’s the same as an Anglophile but I get the same blank looks so hopefully my spin at being Websters Dictionary will help.

A little more about me I am 41 years old and a farang (obviously) and I live in Washington, DC here in the United States. I have been a big fan of Thailand, her people and culture for sometime now although to date I have never actually been to Thailand before. That’s not all that strange since I am not the only one as I have seen on this website and others. However, that is all set to change because eventually I plan to visit Thailand someday and possibly change careers to live and work there!

My idea for this blog was to write about some of my experiences learning about Thailand such as teaching myself on my own to speak Thai and preparing for a future life there. Also there are a lot of Thai people and Thai culture that can be found here in Washington so I thought that would be a fresh perspective for blogging writting about Thais in America.

This past week everyone in Thailand has been celebrating Songkhran, the Thai New Year. Tomorrow at Wat Thai DC, the Thai Buddhist Temple here in Maryland the local Thai citizens and plenty of farang friends will be celebrating Songkhran there with a lot of great food, music and of course my favorite, shopping! But that is only a very close favorite to another love of mine, delicious Thai food.

My next blog will be about the Songkhran festival here tomorrow with lots of pics since I bought a new digital cam just for this event. I think it will be quite fun to write about Thailand in America and my experiences so look for me at least once a week to start and we will see what happens. I hope you all bare with me as I blunder along at this 😉

Till next time,



The Fourth Day of Songkran

The enthusiasm for waterfights is certainly slowing down now on what is the fourth day. I took this picture on a street corner this afternoon. There were only a handful of pickup trucks roaming the streets and a few kids alongside roads staging ambushes against unsuspecting people. They say that some parts of the country only have waterfights for one day. Other places it goes on for a full week. It was in the newspaper today that the government are planning on zoning next year to help curb some of the out-of-control antics of a few drunks and perverts. I am not exactly sure how setting up special areas for the waterfights will bring it back to its roots of clean fun. What is the point in bringing in new laws when they cannot police the present ones. Maybe if they were stricter with underage drinking and teenagers riding motorcycles without a license then we wouldn’t have so many problems – and deaths.

This afternoon I drove past Wat Chai Mongkon in Paknam when I noticed that they must have recently had their sandcastle building competition. Shame I missed this one as there must have been at least 100 hundred sand pagodas. I had driven around Samut Prakan earlier in the week trying to find billboards with information about what was happening at various temples. However, not all of them advertise. I will make a note of this one for next year. Can you guess what the kids are doing in the picture below? Yes, they are looking for money buried in the pagodas. I asked one kid and he said he had found 20 one baht coins in the last two hours! This reminds me of the Loy Krathong festival. People put a few coins in their krathongs for good luck. They then float these on the water. After they have gone (and sometimes while they are watching in horror) some of the street kids swim out to steal the money!