Monk Initiation Ceremony
Our relationship with Chiang Mai has changed.
We are no longer exploring this exotic city, known as Thailand’s “rose of the north”. We are saying goodbye.
We are retracing our steps, trying to find the places we stumbled on during our first days here, when everything was so fresh and new and exciting. I am also on a mission to try to photograph all the things I haven’t been able to capture as we zoom around the city, our hands busy driving or holding Miss M.
Even on our farewell tour, Chiang Mai was able to surprise us.
We set off to take photos of what we have dubbed “the horse temple”, officially known as Wat Kuan Ka Ma.
Of course, you can’t take photos at the horse temple without popping into the next-door “dragon temple”, Wat Montien.
And then, of course, you are so close to mysterious ancient Wat Lok Mali across the road, that you simply must poke your nose in there. Especially as there seems to be some kind of festival going on.
And that’s how we find ourselves in the middle of a novice monk initiation ceremony.
I am fascinated and frustrated in equal measures. What is before my eyes is worthy of National Geographic-style photography. Yet what I see in my viewfinder is not up to the standard. I just cannot capture the magic.
Here are my best efforts:
I found this part of the ceremony to be incredibly endearing. Rather than being a stuffy dreary religious ceremony like the ones I remember from my childhood, it was more an administrative event. And the novice monks, while mostly well-behaved, wriggled and squirmed like the boys they are. You can see how some of the novice monks are reacting to being barefoot on hot cement in the last photo.
And then there was this awkward stretch when the seated part of the service was over:
I just love Chiang Mai and I’m going to miss this city so much.
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12 years ago