Buot Nak: "The Monk Ordination Ceremony"

Chida Chavienghong Nong Saeng

Saraburi Province, Thailand

November 17, 2007

Dear Pi Da,

(cc: Family and Friends)

It was a wonderful surprise to see you again. We have been friends in Miami for almost six years and finally, we met in Thailand.

Thank you for inviting me to the Buot Nak for your son Rachawat. Thank you also for giving me some of the basic information regarding the ceremony.

Every Thai man over twenty years old is obliged to become a monk. Apparently Rachawat (Art), now twenty-five, waited patiently to enter the temple until you were able to return to Thailand.

I understand that the length of time a man stays at the temple can vary from a few weeks to several months or longer. You mentioned that Art decided to stay a short time since he is anxious to return to his studies at law school.

Art was very handsome in his initiation costume and then later in the saffron robes of a Thai Buddhist Monk. You looked very proud of Art and I could see that he was happy to be reunited with you.

I know that you made a special trip from Miami to organize the celebration for your family and your friends and neighbors in Nong Saeng, your home town. All of the four hundred men, women and children enjoyed the meal and the entertainment and then the traditional musical procession.

I was honored to march with you as Art's friends and relatives carried him around the temple. We circled the temple three times before Art met the senior monks at the entrance. He then entered the temple to join the congregation.

Your mother and sisters and nieces were wonderful hostesses. The women seemed shocked and then quite pleased that I was an enthusiastic dance partner. Your male relatives were also quite pleased that I was eager to join them for a beer, at 10:30 in the morning.

Thank you again for inviting me to your celebration. I wish Art and you and your family many more joyful moments.

Your friend,

Khun Jan

Dear Friends,

A note on nicknames:

Almost every Thai person has a nickname. For example, Da and Art. Two of Da's female relatives are A and Noc. Noc means bird. Many Thai girls have Gai that means chicken or Kai, egg. Others are Lek, small; Ying, girl; Ploy, jewel, Kob, frog. The young girl I sponsor at the charity school is named Luk Nam that means tadpole. My friend in Nang Rong is Chai that means boy.

Some parents are creative. They give their children nicknames based on hobbies. For example: Ping Pong; Beer. My friend Keow, a professional musician, calls his new daughter Organ.

(I asked myself, "Why is Art named Art?" I just recalled that Da was an elementary school teacher in Thailand. Her subject? Art.)

Last year I met a girl who said her name was Oy. When she asked me my name I immediately answered "Vey." I am waiting to meet another Oy. I may change my name to "Gevalt".

Actually I gave myself a proper nickname two years ago: For a short time I was dating my friend Lek. * Lek asked me how old I was and when I told her she said, "I could be your daughter." So I said, "OK, call me Papa Jan." It stuck. Sometimes it gets shortened to just Papa. Don't you just love it here?




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