Tuesday, January 19, 2010

the passing of a beloved monk

Alex and I got to experience something truly special while here in Thailand.   One of the country's most beloved Monk past away about three months ago.  Over the past three months they (his main temple) has been building out of wood and paper a giant cremation structure for his cremation ceremony.  I posted pictures of it a few days back.  Apparently the Monk's body was mummified in order to await the ceremony that was performed this past Monday night.  Buddhist ceremonies are open to the public here so we attended the amazing event.

The ceremony started with what I believe was prayers and songs.  I think at least, we don't speak Thai so I had to guess what was going on by observing the actions of the Thai's around me.  During this the head and truck of the elephant structure swung from side to side while the wings of the structure flapped.  Then it happened, complete silence and not a movement in the crowd.....   Smoke started to come from under the wings of the structure and this was the ashes of the monk who had just been cremated inside the structure.  After another prayer amazing fireworks were set off for about 15 minutes.  Then the entire structure was set a blaze and burned to the grown. The emotion amongst the crowd was very celebratory and of great joy and respect for the Monk.

All I could think was, man .... what a way to go.  I believe that death is just a transition and why not celebrate it with fireworks instead of tears.  It was an amazing experience.  Taking pictures was difficult but I did get a few. 

The structure during the Ceremony and before the cremation.

The structure at the end of the entire ceremony.

Small shrine to the Monk.

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