It was a very hot morning when we set off to the temple for the blessings ceremony, also known as the Wai Kru. The humidity was off the scales and we were all glad of the air conditioning in the mini bus. I was with the team from Bangkok-ink.com, and members of the tattoo-school-thailand.com and sakyantmagicalthaitattoo.com .
The Wai Kru is a special Buddhist ceremony where respect is shown to teachers and Masters. In this case it was an opportunity for the wearers of sacred traditional Sak Yant tattoos to go and have them blessed . Some people go every year to have the energy and power within the tattoos refreshed. In Asia, the tattoos are worn to give various blessings and forms of protection from the difficulties you may encounter in life, such as ill health, danger or lack of love.
More fascinating information on the Sak Yant traditional Thai tattoos can be found at this link Sakyantmagicalthaitattoo.com .Happy reading!
On arrival at the temple we came across a large bridge at the entrance to the temple. People were standing on the bridge feeding fish pellets to the massive fish in the river. Murky looking the water may be, but it is teaming with healthy life, from the freakily big cat fish to the turtles and eels which thrive in it’s nutrient rich water.
Having crossed the bridge, we entered the courtyard of the temple. There were stalls either side of the path selling everything you might need for a temple visit, from hand made flower offerings to sweets made from rice flour and egg yolk. My inner photographer thrilled at the cloudburst of colours in the temple. This was going to be fun!
An ancient Thai monk was already installed on a raised platform, ochre coloured robes draped around his body, microphone in hand ready to chant to the people going past him. I smiled and showed respect, but doubted he could see me with his rheumy old eyes. It didn’t matter, my respect would be felt anyway.
We removed our shoes and went up the marble steps to the main event. Stunning images of the Buddha were at the back of the platform, surrounded by fresh flowers in every hue on earth. The main monk was seated at the front, texting on his mobile phone in one hand and eating spiced nuts with the other. The master of ceremonies monk had his microphone ready for the opening prayer and the lay people were ready to control the crowd.
The announcement was made for people to come forward and they made three orderly lines in front of the main monk. Each person was holding a plate of offerings, usually flowers, incense and fruit in the first two lines. The third line were making small offerings of money to the temple which was placed in a basket in front of the third monk.
The first line was the main line. The men in it removed their shirts to display the Sak Yant tattoos they were covered with. This line was for men only as it was the line to get a gold needle inserted into the skin of the chest to bring good luck and protection. The first man came forward and showed respect to the monk and presented his offering plate. The monk took the plate and began to make magic symbols with his finger on the face and around the eyes of his disciple. I noticed the monk was pressing lightly on the shiatsu points above the eyes and on the forehead where the third eye is reputed to be.
The monk then proceeded to insert the pin into the upper chest. The person receiving the pin showed no sign of pain or distress. Indeed, they looked calm and at peace while it was done and slightly stunned when the process was finished.
The second queue was for men, women or children to receive the blessing from the monk holding the Ruesi mask. You can learn more about Ruesi by visiting sakyantmagicalthaitattoo.com .The person would sit in the lotus position in front of the monk and make their offering. The monk would then chant the magical mantras and hold the Ruesi mask over the head of the recipient before placing it over the head. One child in the ritual protested and everyone laughed. Laughter and fun are never far away here in Thailand. Even the proceedings at an important ceremony such as this is never taken too seriously while people are taking part, even though it is a very important event in their life.
Some of the adults began to shake when the Ruesi mask was placed close to them during the ritual. There is always a chance that the person may shake vigorously or even go into a trance due to the strong power exuded by the masks and the blessing. But the lay people are ever present to help coax you gently back to the present and you are in very safe hands. They are the experts in such matters, as are the monks.
The third queue is the one I decided to join. The people wait , patiently smiling at me, for their turn. It is my turn and I put my small donation in the basket and the person collecting it Wai’s and shows respect in return to mine. I look at the monk and he has a kind and peaceful face. He draws an ancient symbol on my forehead and chants a blessing, I can’t help but smile at him and return the kindness and compassion. Then he shows me to hold my hands open in front of him, shaped like a cup to receive the next blessings. He draws magical symbols on both my hands in what feels like thick white chalk paint.
I look at him and the lay helper as I feel an enormous rush of energy go through my body. What began as a small vibration in my hands when he drew the symbol, has now become a flood of positive energy through my whole body. I hope I am not going to go into a trance. I don’t , but the energizing effect persists and my hands shake all afternoon, long after the event is over.
We leave in the late afternoon and the queues are still the same size as when we arrived. These Wai Kru events take place throughout the year, depending on the Master and the Temple. Some are timed to take place on days of the full moon, which are important days here in Thailand. The size of the audience varies, from a few hundred devotees to tens of thousands at the most popular temples with famous Masters of Sak Yant. I am looking forward to the next one. Watch this space!