So What Happened?
Saturday was the main blessing day, the assembled monks carried out ceremonies to clear the space, bring blessings and allow previous incarnations and spirits to be present. In essence it wasn’t much different from the western esoteric traditions. In afternoon they blessed a large pile of amulets, statues and the like that will eventually be sold to the laity.
The white string is a physical representation of the oneness, the connectedness of everyone and everything there. It was wrapped around all the statues, candles, I even saw them install a new piece which led to a car that allowed a very elderly monk to sit in pleasant air-conditioning due to the heat (40c). More on the string thing later.
Saturday night had some entertainment on – well I say that – there was three stages and the shows ran simultaneously so it wasn’t that entertaining to watch but rather an assault on the ears.
A bit better organised was the Muay Thai boxing.
One of these kids got a right wallop on the nose and started crying but he still went for it in the final round.
If the first day was mainly the formal side for the monks the second day was defiantly for the followers.
There’s lots going on at first, Traditional Thai dancers, Chinese dragons dancing, the main guy on a horse throwing wrapped up 1 baht coins into the crowd, music.
After that the Chinese dragons received money from the Lersi to obtain their blessing and good spirits, it’s nice to see a balance of giving and receiving that seems so far apart in the western traditions.
After those opening ceremonies it got going with meditation, music and prayers that the whole congregation joined in with. I could feel the large main drum resonate in my chest cavity (if you’ve ever been to decent nightclub you’ll know what I mean) the chants slowly built and built and had a bit of urgency to them.
With all of this put together I can appreciate how some people could go into a state of ecstasy or rapture, the type of which is in the video below. A few people fully felt it and reacted by shouting, raising hands, standing and dancing, and what seems like either losing control or trying to fight off what ever is trying to control them! I had no idea of what was being said, but I could feel the tempo building and the chants getting more urgent, I could predict just when people might react and sure enough when I opened my eyes I was able to get this on video.
Meditation, Prana breath work, drum beats and chants can easily induce altered states of consciousness. This happened a few times in each session – some I thought were getting swept along with the rapture and releasing something built up in them. Some like the girl above, I thought had little control over what was happening to them. A couple of the guys at the front were acolytes and I felt that they could’ve been adding a bit more drama as they felt comfortable to do so or it looked more like they had the spirits flow through them.
If that wasn’t unusual enough, perfectly timed for the end of the morning session there was of course a procession of psychedelic dancing horses, to some rockin’ ska music – brilliant what’s not to like!
Lunch soon followed and then the afternoon sessions used the strings we saw earlier,
Afterwards each person kept their string and the little red blessing/protective paper hung above them. I also managed to catch one of the coins thrown into the crowd at the start of the day.
And finally the main event the Korb Kroo Mask ceremony.
Each monk had a Khon Mask to place over the heads of the participants and pass on the blessings from that monk and his predecessors, it is designed to remove bad spirits
Some people reacted similar to the morning session they even had military bouncers to hold onto anyone who might hurt themselves or others.
I liked the weekend, It was interesting to see some traditions many tourists would never see, not only did I learn a lot of new things and it added a few more pieces to my bigger picture jigsaw, I did feel better in my spirit/self for a number of days afterwards.