We were delighted to be invited to a traditional Thai monk blessing ceremony as the 2013 year came to a close. This celebration was on behalf of our good friend, Bee, who runs a guesthouse and restaurant in Chiang Mai. It was the first Thai ceremony we experienced since coming to Thailand, and we were honored to be included among family and other friends for this personal event.
While this type of ceremony is not typically held on birthdays, our friend chose to combine her birthday with a blessing of her guesthouse for the upcoming New Year. Bee was dressed up and wore a modernized Thai traditional outfit for this occasion.
She and her family had been up early preparing for the ceremony, cooking food for the guests and setting up the guesthouse entryway with a traditional Thai altar featuring a Buddha statue with candles and flowers.
The Monk Blessing Ceremony Begins
The monk blessing ceremony began promptly at 10am and was performed in the open-aired first floor area of Be Beez Cafe & Guesthouse. Five Thai Buddhists monks lined up against one wall beside the altar. Friends and family knelt on straw mats across from the monks while Bee knelt in front of the altar.
Candles were lit for the Buddha, and everyone waiied and bowed their heads slightly as the monks began their rhythmic chanting. The monks held a white string in between their hands, which was wrapped around a candle that dripped wax into a bowl of holy water.
The chanting continued for twenty minutes. Afterwards, Bee and her family members presented small gifts to the monks, including fresh flowers and the auspicious saffron robes they are renowned for wearing.
The monks performed the last bit of the ceremony by presenting small dishes of holy water to Bee and her family. The five monks sprinkled the holy water onto each person, and the remaining holy water was sprinkled around the guesthouse, as the monks wished Bee happiness and good fortune for her business in the upcoming year.
At the conclusion of the monk blessing ceremony, Bee gave thanks to the Buddha by offering a small dish of food. The monks were also presented with a table laden with Thai food as thanks for their services.
There were traditional Thai dishes, included grilled river fish and snakehead fish, lemongrass seafood soup, pork soup, spicy papaya salad, sweet and sour fish and vegetables, and a Northern Thai “soufflé” of spices, egg, and seafood. For dessert we were served fresh fruit and rice flour noodles in sweetened coconut milk.
Bee used this time to open her birthday presents and take pictures with everyone who had joined in the event.
As the monks were being sent off to the temple in a songthaew, everyone helped themselves to food, which was laid out on the straw mats where the ceremony was held.
Wishing You Good Luck and Happiness
Thank you, Bee, for inviting us to the monk blessing ceremony of your guesthouse and restaurant! We also wish you good luck and happiness this year, and happy birthday, too!