A temple located in between rice fields
Honestly, I never thought I would participate in a Buddhist ritual unless I was taken in tow by a Thai, and that is precisely what has happened. An appointment was made by telephone with a monk in a temple in San Patong. This village is located about 20 kilometers outside of Chiang Mai. And the place is mostly known for its weekly buffalo market.
Hardly any visitors
The temple itself is located somewhat remotely between rice fields. For those who never have been there, you will have a hard time finding it. The place looks fairly desolated and I am convinced that tourists are not frequent visitors if they hardly come at all.
The purpose of the visit is a providence ritual
In the cool of the morning, we drive to the temple. En route, we stop at a local market to buy food and water for the monk. Thai people always do that when they visit a temple. Our primary purpose of visiting this temple is what I would name, a providence ritual; this should help us to achieve a happy life, with the necessary financial resources, and going through the ceremony would also protect us from accidents.
I have to admit that I am a bit skeptical in the beginning. But of course, I am biased because of my western way of reasoning. How can a ritual in a temple provide more luck in life? For Buddhist people, this is just obvious. To not upset my partner, I do not resist, and I guess it will not hurt me either.
Actively participate in the ceremony
This providence doesn`t come by itself; you will need to actively participate in an extensive ceremony, which gets organized for a fee. The Buddhist ritual starts by yourself making as many balls of sticky rice as your age. These rice balls are placed in a bowl, upon which two candles and a flower are placed on top afterward. Furthermore, several pieces of string are snipped, each of which is as long as your body length. Later, these ropes end up on another platter where they are soaked in water. Furthermore, at the entrance of the temple, you light some candles. All these actions are carried out by yourself as some preparatory work.
Undergo the full Buddhist ritual to get blessed
Once this is done, the monk appears on the scene, and the real ceremony begins. The monk connects the offerings (food and water), some white garments which we brought with us, and finally ourselves with pieces of string. He then starts reciting various mantras for several minutes. For the complete duration of this Buddhist ritual, you are crouching in front of the monk, with your hands folded in the wai posture. This posture represents a figurative lotus flower with the hands against each other at the height of the chest.
Finally getting blessed
After sprinkling our heads with water, another final ritual follows where oil and gold leaves are attached to the hands and forehead. Once this last action is completed, you are blessed. The whole session comes with some endurance on my part. I am not used to sitting on the floor in a Lotus position. So I feel relieved when the whole ceremony finally reaches its end.
A Buddhist ritual to favor your destiny
The whole event took more than 2 hours. It is not my intention to determine afterward what were the benefits of having gone through this Buddhist ceremony, neither to figure out what all the actions performed mean. In the Buddhist view, you merely tried to favor your destiny.