Friday, April 22, 2011

The Wats.

The purpose of my blog is to be descriptive, not prescriptive.  I am a guest in this country and in any country that I visit.  I am not really trying to criticize or even critique what I see.  I am interested in how people see the world, how that affects their lives, families and cultures.  Most people who read this blog either know me and thus know my religious viewpoint and if you don't know me, might be able to pick it up.  So when I talk about other religious things that we see, my purpose is primarily descriptive and I don't add a lot of commentary.
So with that disclaimer- the Wats.
Thailand is almost 95% Buddhist with a 4.5 % Muslim population and .5% Christian.  Buddhism seems to infiltrate every part of their lives.  As I posted before, there are shrines in every home, store, market, hotel, and even parking lots.  People stop and pour water over the Buddha and bow at most shrines.
The flowers markets are full of flower offerings that are taken to shrines or wats (temples).

You also see balls of string for sale.  We saw quite a bit of string hanging in the temples and I am a little unclear as to the meaning.  I think it has to do with blessing.

Huge, huge flower markets.  By the way, that red truck is a taxi.

At the airport, we saw this sign.   Yes, we did peek in the rooms. Nothing special.

So now, on to the wats.  I think we went to about six or seven, including a Chinese one.  Each was very different and fascinating.

Modesty seemed to be a hallmark all over Chiang Mai...except for the foreign tourists and the professional "daters."

This is a new mosque being built in Chiang Mai.

Many languages at the entrance.

The string and flags hanging down.

Many visitors worshiped.

There was a school at the wat, and the temple was full of wiggly boys.  Really wiggly.

We found the Chinese temple that has a very different look and feel than the Thai temples.  This is much more what we see in temples in China.

Going to these places gave our family lots to talk about.  At one place we saw a man dressed in a  tiger outfit, swaying and chanting.  People were bowing before him and he was blessing them.  It was dark outside and there was chanting coming from the temple and it really was a scary moment for me.  It really bothered me to see people worshiping a man.  He seemed very off and odd to me, with unfocused eyes and just a scary feel to him.
We also discussed the role of religion versus non-religion.  How has the officially non-religious stance in China affected their culture and how has the deeply religious stance in Thailand affected their culture.
We are so glad for these opportunities to learn and grow.


Goosegirl said...

Very interesting. I have never seen many of these types of pictures before so it was really neat to see. The swaying tiger would have wigged my out, OR I would have started giggling. Thank you for the really interesting info.

Tarasview said...

very interesting!!

Steph said...

i live in laos. the thai/lao use string to bless each other! something like everyone has 32 parts of a soul and you tie string to each other's wrists in special ceremonies so keep those parts tied to you. i've never seen a tiger man though- does sound creepy!!