Friday, 4 May 2018

Poy Sang Long | Reuters' Wider Image | Jorge Silva

Photo © Reuters/Jorge Silva - Al Rights Reserved
I was planning to attend the Poy Sang Long celebration in Chiang Mai in early April, but the opportunity of my Shanghai lecture and workshop intervened, and so I had to postpone traveling to northern Thailand till next year.

However, I viewed the recent wonderful photo essay and reportage titled Beloved Princes Become Buddhist Novices by Jorge Silva of the annual event which was featured in Reuters' Wider Image blog, and it definitely reaffirmed my intention to attend the celebration in April 2019.

The essay/reportage is quite thorough in explaining what Poy Sang Long is all about, but here's more information:

The days of April 4-6 are usually the time for the three-day festival of Poy Sang Long when, in the city of Chiang Mai, pre-teen boys are inducted as Buddhist novices. On the first day of the 3-day festival, the youngsters are in the midst of family feasting and gift giving before they are escorted to the temple to have their eyebrows and heads shaved. They are then ritually cleansed and anointed by bathing in sacred water. The parade to the temple is accompanied by the flute music, the beat of drums and the clash of cymbals by local musicians.

On the second day, the boys will parade to the temple to offer gifts to Buddha and the resident monks. The parade will move slowly from Thapae Gate through the road up to Chiang Mai Gate and eventually arrive at Wat Pa Pao.

Early morning on the third day (ordination day), the boys will be transformed into "Princes". Their faces will be covered with powder, rouge and lipstick and they'll be dressed in resplendent costumes, with white turbans on their heads.