Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thai funerals

this post has no pictures. In one week, I went to two funerals, one for a teacher's father, like 6 hours away, and one in town for a student's father. It was initially puzzling why I was invited to these, but at the second, someone explained- funerals here are social status markers. You try to invite as many people as possible.

To the teacher's father's funeral, about 30 teachers chartered a bus, and spent the majority of each 6 hour ride listening to extremely loud Thai music and singing karaoke. When we arrived at the temple, we each put a stick of incense in a shrine in front of the deceased's picture and ate. We went to a market for an hour and then boarded the bus for another long ride.

The second had no incense, but the meal was significantly larger- there were well more than 100 people in attendance. At the end, two monks chanted for about 10 minutes. About 30 of us sat quietly, displaying the Wai, while the rest of the party chatted on unconcerned. Immediate family prayed but the din was really something- children playing and dogs barking and people laughing over dinner.

Both of these made me a little uncomfortable.

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