New Year ritual not everyones cup of tea

Coffin, funeral_for_the_living_3_0In times past, before access to technologies like the internet, we tended to live in our somehwat isolated little bubbles believing that most other people were probably not all that much different for us.  This is no longer the case.  At the click of a ‘mouse’ a whole world of difference is revealed.  For each of these ‘different’ groups what we might consider odd or bizarre they consider to be not only normal but traditions and rituals to be cherished and practiced as if their lives depended on them.  Not unlike the traditions and rituals that we engage in. Such is the power of belief and the influence of groups to convince us to behave in certain ways, irrespective of whether or not these beliefs make sense to others.  This story demonstrates the strength of beliefs to influence our behaviour.

Thai people organise own funeral, lie inside coffins to ring in new year (Hindustan Times, New Delhi Jan 01, 2019)

“Even as the rest of the world rang in the new year with fireworks and countdowns, a suburban temple in Thailand’s Bangkok witnessed a peculiar ritual: worshippers lying inside coffins to participate in traditional funeral rituals. What may appear to be eerie to many is, in fact, a Thai Buddhist ritual held every new year.

The ceremony, worshippers believe, symbolises death and rebirth, which helps them get rid of bad luck and be reborn for a fresh start in the new year.

Participants held flowers and incense in their hands as monks covered them with pink sheets and chanted prayers for the dead.

Phitsanu Kiengpradouk, a 67-year-old retired policeman, was ready to welcome the new year with his own funeral.

“Laying in coffins means we are letting go of our suffering, from our body, and from our mind. We come here to lay in coffins, so we can have better luck and a better life,” said Phitsanu. Busaba Yookong, a 30-year-old who attended the ritual with her family said attending her own funeral was not as eerie an experience as one would presume.

The Takien Temple saw hundreds of worshippers flocking to it to take part in the Thai Buddhist ritual.

This is a ritual that has endured for years. Here we have a group of people within Thailand who believe that lying in a coffin is the right way to start off the new year.

In Thailand’s Coffin Ceremony for the Living, Roy Cavanagh (June 2, 2011) reports that: “Thailand is a country with many superstitions and beliefs and the coffin ceremony is just one example. There are some provincial temples in Thailand, such as this one at Nakhon Nayok that specialize in the coffin ceremony with Buddhist monks providing the blessings. For a fee of around 200 Baht (a merit-making donation to the temple) participants lay in the coffin holding flowers. The lid is then shut as the monks chant death rites.    Just over a minute later as the monks chant about new life, the coffin is opened and the participants are ‘reborn’ leaving behind their bad karma. If, in future years, the participant endures a spell of bad luck or misfortune, they may again opt for the coffin ceremony to bring about a reversal in their luck.     It should be pointed out that not all Thai people believe in the power of the coffin ceremony. There are plenty of Thai Buddhists who view it as a bad omen for a living person to lie down in a coffin.

Read this story at various places on the internet as well as this one from ABC News, scroll down to Thailand … Religious ceremony


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