Saturday, 12 March 2011

Isaan Funeral - First Posted Aug 30, 2008

This is a repost from my defunct blog.

Nit's grandfather died on Monday, and Nit got a call early evening.  He went over to see his father.  The following day we visited the grandfathers home to pay our respects.  Already there were large numbers of people sat around outside eating and gambling.  The coffin was in the front room of the house. After some lunch with the family we headed home.

Nit's brother, Tid, had arrived from Bangkok in the early hours.  We'd transferred money for the bus that afternoon.  The following morning we set off reasonably early.... but only after Nit made sure I had the camera, and he 'borrowed' 2,000 baht so he could pay our way.  It was tricky parking near the house as I counted 32 pick ups of one make or another.

First order of business was the eldest sons becoming monks for the day.  Yes plural, it was Nit's father, as eldest son of the grandfather, Tid and the eldest sons of Nit's fathers two brothers.  We went to the local Wat where the head monk first shaved their heads and eyebrows.

They then removed any signs of wealth, watches, bracelets etc.  They knelt before the monk and to declare their wish to become monks.

At the end of the ceremony they were presented with their monks robes.  They changed into their monks robes and then we took them, and the other monks back to the house. 

There was a ceremony inside the house, which I did not see as we were invited into the back room to eat with the family. 

Once the monks had concluded the regular monks returned to the Wat.  After about half an hour it was time to move.  The coffin was loaded onto the back of a pick up truck.  Everything else required was loaded into our pick up.

The 4 'monks for a day' held a cord attached to the pickup with the coffin and led the procession to the Wat.  We followed up at the rear.

Along the route sticks with small paper flags were planted at the side of the road.Once in the Wat grounds the coffin was driven three times anti clockwise around the crematorium before being taken into the sala.  This is where the ceremonies took place.

The lid was removed from the coffin and the monks poured coconut water over the body to cleanse it and accelerant from a length of bamboo.  Once the monks had done this then other people who so wished did the same.  The monks were presented with lengths of cloth, and the 'water pouring' took place.

Soon it was time for the fire.

Nit was one of the pall bearers and then stood by the coffin in the crematorium as people passed to pay their final respects.  He stayed there when everyone had passed and helped push the coffin into the crematorium.  He stayed watching to make sure that there was smoke before the door was shut.

Whilst everyone went back to the house we waited until the four 'sons' asked to be released from the monkhood.  After a short ceremony they relinquished their robes and we returned to the house  .I was invited into the house to eat with the family.  After chatting to people Nit, Tid and their father joined us, as we ate and drank Thai whisky. About 5 we headed home.

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