Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tradition: Wai Kru Ceremony

Hello everyone! My name is Shelby Riley. This coming school year I will be a junior in the Music Therapy program at the University of Kansas.  I was born and raised in Boulder Colorado. Growing up I did a lot of traveling around the United States and Mexico with my family. Traveling has always been a passion of mine and something I am so thankful to be able to pursue in college.

My experience in Thailand thus far has been unlike anything I could have imagined. Before coming here I was told by many people that Thailand was one of the best counties in the world. The reasons that topped their lists were the incredible food, the unbelievable scenery, and the fascinating traditions. These things have all played a major part in my experience in Thailand, but the Thai traditions remain at the top of my list.

On Thursday, June 6 the undergraduate students had the honor of participating in what is known as the Wai Kru Ceremony. For those of you who don’t know what a Wai Kru Ceremony is you are like most of us when first hearing about it. Wai Kru is a ceremony in which students honor their teachers as well as the spirits. They show their respect and thanks for what they have been taught and for their future education. The ceremony takes place in most schools across Thailand on the first Thursday of each semester. Why Thursday you may ask? Thursday is considered the teacher’s day. This particular ceremony that we attended was specifically for the school of music.

The ceremony begins early in the morning with teachers, students and invited monks. They pay respect to the Buddha and then the monks will start to pray. After this, breakfast is offered to the monks and the teachers and students will offer the four necessities. Everyone then prays for those teachers who have passed away.

The second part of the ceremony is the Teacher Homage Ceremony. All of the teachers from the school of music sat on stage. In groups of four they would move to the front of the group. Students would then walk barefooted onto the stage with beautiful flower arrangements. When the students arrived on stage they stopped to pay respect to the King and Buddha. The students knelt down and walked to the teachers on their knees. They bowed and presented each teacher with one of the flower arrangements. This part of the ceremony continued until all of the student representatives from different study levels had made an offering to the teachers.

The final portion of the ceremony was a prayer lead by Master Pinij Chaysuwan to honor the music spirit and music creators. This was accompanied by Thai traditional music using instruments that are only heard during a ceremony.

Thai tradition is one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced. The respect and honor that is shown through these ceremonies and offerings in day-to-day life is truly amazing.

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