Thailand is officially a Buddhist country and some 95% of Thais are Buddhists. Always remember to remove your shoes and dress smartly when entering a temple (sleeveless shorts and short skirts are not allowed). Never allow your feet to point towards an image of the Buddha or ven stand taller than him. Monks are not allowed to have any physical contact with women and only the buddhist nuns are allowed to touch the thai women.
A few years ago, a Thai friend told me that it was forbidden and highly avoided that a female approach and give alms to monks. Females can do so via a male conduit.
I am not sure if this is till practiced but during my recent trip I told my husband to do so on my behalf. Better to err on the safe side than offend their customs/traditions.
Along highways and even on tiny country roads, signboard advertisements for Jatukham amulets such as this one are becoming an ubiquitous feature of Thailand scenery. Jatukham amulets are becoming a staple of Thai life with economic and political uncertainties and one can see many of these large cookie sized images hanging on the necks of many Thais nowadays.
Monks are not allowed to have any physical contact with women, so visiting women need to be aware. In most situations its unlikely to arise, unless in a crowd for example.
The other situation I've come across is on the plane, when a monk was seated next to me. Most times the male member of the cabin crew attended to him, but once when it was a female, I had to take his drink from her and pass it to him.
Normally the airline would not seat a monk beside a female passenger, but if something were to go wrong, the monk or the female would be allocated a new seat when on board.
- Buddhist monks are forbidden to touch or be touched by a woman, or to accept anything from the hand of one. If a woman has to give anything to a monk, she first hands it to a man, or put it on a plate provided.
We were quite shocked when we saw this monk having a long and friendly chat through his mobile phone. In a way, they look so out of this world that you dont imagine that they have phones, computers or anything like that. We were told later that many Thai man spend a 3-month period of their youth living as monks. Perhaps this young man was not a full time monk. Or perhaps monks really have mobile phones, I dont know
Nos quedamos bastante flipados cuando vimos a este monje que llevaba un buen rato de charla divertida a traves de su telefono movil (celular). De algun modo, los monjes parecen tan fuera de este mundo que no te imaginas que tengan telefonos, ordenadores ni nada por el estilo. Nos dijeron despues que muchos thais pasan un periodo de tres meses de su juventud viviendo como monjes. Quizas este joven no era un monje a tiempo completo, sino que solo estaba pasando ese periodo. O quizas los monjes tengan realmente telefonos moviles, no lo se.
Very close to the former WTC (for now Central World Plaza) you can find the Erawan Shrine and the 4-faced Buddha. The original image concerned the 4-headed deity Brahma, while the original Erawan was named after Airvata, Indra's 3-headed elephant mount. The 4-headed image does refer to the 4 directions of the compass-card and, where the wind will blow. An ancient symbol for the divine.
Most tourists come here for shopping at WTC, also shopping at Isetan and Zen. And not forgetting the Duty Free Shop "King Power" and the famous Jim Thompson's Silk Shop.
Local worshippers come here for granting their wishes, and don't care if the image once had been a Hindu Brahma deity. Maybe the conversion to Buddhism refers to this event long ago which you can find in Thailand, China, Birma etc. All 4-faced Buddha images are very like eachother, though representing the Hindu Trimurti Deities of Creation, Destruction and Preserver. You may find that sacred image one right in front of the WTC & Zen, see my Wishful Thinking open-page. Watch the musicians and dancers near the 4-faced Buddha, who are always on hand for an impromptu performance, commissioned by the worshippers ...
I am not sure but I think it is not a good idea to take a photograph of a buddhist monk. Well, generally, noone should photograph anyone without permission. I did try to ask some monks to have my pic taken with them but in all instances was politely turned down by them.
You can see people greeting monks and even offering them seats on public transports. More than 90% of the population believe in Buddhism. There are about 10 000 temples in Thailand and 270 000 Sangha(monks). Monks are highly respected there as most of them doubled up as counsellors, teachers and even mediators.
Buddhist monks walking about in the temple areas are hard to miss.
And, if i understood this right, you can choose to be a monk for any length of time during your lifetime. From devoting your entire life to being a monk for just one day...
On some buses and river taxis, there are special seats allocated to monks. They are usually located close to the entry/exit points. They are reserved for monks and you should never sit in them-even if you are quite tired.
They say that Buddhist Monks dont talk to the opposite sex...
And if somebody from the opposite sex wants to give the monks something... the women have to hand it to a man for him to hand it to the monk...
One constant in my travels in Thailand were the Buddha's wearing scarves or sashes. It is obviously a sign of veneration -- in fact the Emerald Buddha has 3 sets of woven gold thread outfits to suit the seasons. This Buddha was just sitting there facing away from the main malestrom of the Grand Palace.
Bells and gongs are a part of any Buddhist shrine or temple. I liked these especially as they were small and rather than being struck, rely on the wind to make their sounds. These were on a building at the Grand Palace.
If you are looking for an amazing, life changing experience, attend a monk's ordination/induction ceremony. I went to one when I was ELEVEN, and I still think of it often. It is a fantastic, beautiful, powerful ritual.