Almost all Buddhist men in Thailand become a monk at some point in their lives. Although there are thousands of full time Buddhist monks in Thailand, most men remain a monk for a short time. Becoming a monk is part of the culture of Thailand. The men who do become full time monks do so for a variety of personal reasons, but for most men, the entering the Sangha is a means of gaining merit or status, honoring their parents, and fulfilling a necessary part of Thai culture. The process of becoming a monk is as important as the monk-hood itself for the community. For several days before the ordination there are festivals and celebrations honoring the man who will be ordained. The community is involved in the preparations and the planning for the event, and festivities that accompany it. Celebrations can be fairly small or may be parties for several thousand, depending on the status and hence wealth of the man’s family. The festivities for Wanchai Nouvasuwan, were relatively small, as he does not come from a wealthy family. Wanchai traveled several hundred miles to be ordained at a temple close to where his family lives. His time spent in the temple as a monk is limited to the amount of time he can take off from work, and be away from his wife. In Wanchai Nouvasuwan’s case, he told us his plan was to be a monk for 30 days, but that may change depending on how he feels after spending time in the temple. The choice is his to make.
Update: Wanchai Nouvasuwan ended up staying a monk for close to 3 weeks, 16 days total.
Please enjoy the slide show below or visit my website to view and share the images of Wanchai Nouvasuwan as he becomes a Thai Buddhist monk in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand.