A Year in Bangkok – Young Monks

10 04 2011

Go anywhere in Thailand, especially early in the morning, and you will see monks in their orange robes, the design of which hasn’t changed since the time of Siddhartha. Some time ago now, I was told that every man has to become a monk for a part of his life in order to fulfill the blessing of his parents.

Sometimes young boys disappear from school for a short time and return with their heads shaved, having become monks for a couple of weeks. More often though, they do that during the school holidays and especially now, the long summer holiday. Young boys can become novices at any age, but a man cannot become a monk until he gets to the age of twenty. He can then remain a monk for as long as he wants, even if it is just for a few days. One to three months seems to be more usual, although a minority choose to remain in monkhood for the rest of their lives.

I often feel here that Buddhism is very much a living faith and the monks have to abide by no less than two hundred and twenty seven strict precepts or rules of conduct. How strictly they are adhered to is another matter though. For instance, when my daughter came to visit, a young monk asked her to marry him, explaining that he wouldn’t be a monk for very long.

Sixty two young monks visited our housing estate to collect alms very early this morning. All of these boys, I believe, are fulfilling their family’s wishes during the summer holidays. They came from the local temple and their visit here was something of a special occasion which ensured that most of the people who live here were up and paying their respects.


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2 responses

9 04 2012
dave

I am a novice from thailand this blog is great

9 04 2012
Ben Salmons

Thanks Dave, glad you liked it.

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