Becoming a Monk

Monks in Thailand begin their careers by serving as ‘Dek Wat’ or ‘Temple Boy’. The primary reason for becoming a Dek Wat is to gain a basic education, particularly in reading and writing. Historically temples served as the primary form of education for most Thai boys and, until very recently, service in a temple was the only form of learning available to most rural peasants

Temporary ordination has now become the norm among Thai Buddhists with the period of ordination lasting up to three years. At this point the novice monks can choose to stay, and continue their education, or return to ordinary life

In theory a novice is sponsored by his parents in his ordination, however in practice, in many rural villages, the entire village participates by providing the robes, alms bowl, etc. that will be required for the period of ordination. This is the case in Pai where the ordination of Dek Wat is preceded by a celebration lasting three days, the highlight of which is a procession through the village with novices, adorned in elaborate costumes and make up, being carried on the shoulders of their proud parents

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