I truly feel that travel gives you life moments that you can never anticipate or plan for. Moments that take your breath away and truly stop time.
Offering respect to a Buddhist Monk in Northern Thailand was one of those moments.
Kneeling in front of a Buddhist temple giving an offering to an elder Buddha. I bowed my head in respect and felt so much emotion washing over me. I had tears in my eyes as I listened to the monks chant and pray for us. I am not sure what they said but I felt the emotion and thoughts that were being said.
It didn’t matter that I am not Buddhist, that I came from America, that I didn’t know what they were saying all that mattered was being in that moment.
I was part of a ritual/process that has been going on for centuries.
Every morning the local people in Chaing Khan gather in the streets at 6am to offer sticky rice and other food to the local Buddhist monks. They kneel on the street as trucks go by so they can give to the monks. After the processional through the streets the local people go home and prepare their family breakfast. A portion of the family breakfast is brought to the temple for the monks.
The Buddhist monks only eat twice a day. They do not consume any food or drinks other than water past noon each day. Buddhist followers believe that by offering they monks food they are not only taking care of them they are passing food to love ones who have passed.
Our guide told us that her family lost her brother who loved junk food. Her Mom will now bring chocolate bars and sweet treats to the monks in hopes that they are spiritually passed to their lost family member.
We observed local villagers offering sticky rice, food packets, bottles of water and juice. They also offer flowers and other gifts to the monks.
The monks walk in order of senority as they pass down the street. The oldest monk in years of service not age is first in line followed by each monk until you reach the novice monks. Novice monks can start as early as age 8. Buddhist monks have 227 commandments that they live by including no killing, no lying, and no stealing.
The uniform of the monk includes shaving their head on the full moon to help resist temptation. They do not wear underwear under their robes. Buddhist monks can not have a wife or touch a female during their time as a monk.
There is only one Buddha in Thailand but he is seen in many forms. The Thai Buddha is different from the Buddha seen in China or Japan.
Buddhism is seen on every property as you tour Thailand. From the large temples to the smaller shrines on each property.
This moment is one of those times when travel changes you. A moment you know your soul is changed for the better.