Ordination of a Monk in Thailand
[24-70mm – f/2.8 – 1/250th – ISO100 – D800 with 28mm f/5.6
Thailand is one of the most religious Buddhist countries in the world. The Buddhism is ubiquitous, countless shining temples and many Buddhist monks in saffron robes everywhere. Every Thai male aged 20 and up from a Buddhist family is expected to live as a monk, even if it is just for a short time. Some however, will decide to live as a monk, their entire life. Thais regard this custom as an essential step in preparing to be a man. Therefore, most Thai males will enter the monk hood and be ordained before they decide to marry. Living as a monk also provides him with an ideal environment in which to study the Lord Buddhas teachings and to purify his mind and keep true to his Buddhist beliefs.
The Thai people believe that being ordained as a Buddhist monk is a great way to gain merit. This is meant for the ordained person himself and specially for his parents. This is especially significant for his mother who can not be monk herself.The length of time and location may chosen either by the man or his parents. However, the date and time of his ordination ceremony and his final day of being a monk are based on his date of birth and are usually developed by a senior monk.
The ceremony involves the man’s hair and eyebrows being shaved and him being bathed by elder family members. After this, the Naak is clothed in a long white robe. When arriving at the temple, the Naak (english Naga) and his relatives will circle the ordination hall clockwise three times. The parents and relatives walk in the procession, each carrying a requisite of the monk to be. Then the Naak, the parents and the senior relatives will enter the ordination hall where the monks are assembled to perform the ceremony, ready to examine the suitability of the candidate seeking to be a new member of the Sangha. The Buddhist monk is obliged to observe the 227 precepts established by the Lord Buddha and himself is supposed to own only eight items – three robes, an alms bowl, a razor, needle and thread, a belt, and a strainer to purify drinking water. A novice, a monk under 20 years is expected to abide by 10 rules.
Over the last years, during countless temple explorations, I’ve witnessed as a photographer one of the most impressive what could be considered the pinnacle of Thai cultural events, the monk ordination ceremony. However, it wasn’t until recently where I was lucky to be invited by a Thai family from the Chanthaburi Province, to witness firsthand of a full ordination ceremony into monkhood.
Not only does it gave me a great insight into Thai culture, but it’s also fantastic to see the family’s pride and the excitement of friends and relatives as the Naak progresses step by step into monkhood.
I shot the images with a Nikon D800 and AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I processed the images with Adobe’s Lightroom 5.6. and Photoshop CS6.