Thursday, 29 October 2009

A Village Affair

At the end of Buddhist Lent, in Thailand, once a year, there is a ceremony called Tod Kathin - where families and friends get together to make merit by offering money and supplies to a temple for renovations and improvements. It is truly a communal affair and my first Tod Kathin Ceremony last weekend was a village affair as my grandmother who hosted the Ceremony together with some family friends did so in a temple in the middle of nowhere, outside of Phetchburi. 
I felt like I had gone back into time, of course one can choose to donate money which is presented on money trees to an already modern temple but that rather defeat the object . . . this temple was very basic and barely built, thus our little procession of family and friend plus local villagers together with a band complete with trumpet and saxophones with dancers in floral shirts and the money trees and other bits to be offered to the temple marched around the new unbuilt pavilion 3 times.  

Lunch was prepared by the villagers - basic, real and I kid you not, delicious - I especially like that the food was served on tiffen plates.

  ladies lunching (ran out of tables)


Then there was the actual chanting session and the offering to the monks, where we had to form a human chain to be blessed by the holy water.  It was rather surreal as well, seeing as  a petanque tournament was going on outside all the whilst the ceremony was taking place, and the little stalls with food, toys and paint-it-yourself ceramics added to the festival atmosphere. 



So ordinary, yet so charming, with an innocence and cheekiness that makes you see why all throughout history and to the present day there is a fascination with all things Thais and why even a little Village Affair evokes images of Thai new-wave films - this is when art perhaps does imitate life. . .with everything from Tears of a Black Tiger to Blissfully Yours . . . and this affair is real life.

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