So What is a Wat?

20160109_15070120151211_16283420160109_143637A Wat is a Buddhist Temple.  There are over 40,000 in Thailand.  They are usually quite large, several buildings, and always a wall around the outside.  I have been to many, and every one was beautiful, and different.  There is a lot of gold, and red in every one. This is where the Monks live and learn.  Wats in Thailand are open to all but you must remove your shoes, and they request appropriate dress (no shorts, no bare shoulders etc.)  Some even have signs to say No Kissing, No Smoking, No Alcohol…… I guess some people need to be told.  Monks were always very welcoming.  I had one say to me “Come on in – tell me where you are from” and we had a lengthy conversation.  Locals enter and kneel down and it would seem prayers are short.  People light incense  and joss sticks (candles).  There are lots of flowers and chrysanthemums are the flower of choice. Night blooming jasmine is also popular and makes for a wonderful smell as the sun goes down.  Buddhas are in many positions, and I believe each position denotes a purpose.  Most Wats have very elaborate chandeliers, several clocks, often big and digital,  a picture of the King of Thailand, and clean public toilets. 20160111_15034220160107_134207They also often have very realistic replica figures of monks – I find them creepy.  I have seen ashes of locals stored at a Wat, and one I visited had a crematorium.  There was a photo of a woman, many floral wreathes, and a fancy gold casket – with blinking Christmas lights on it……Tucked in behind one Wat was a workout area for the Monks.  There were home made weights, and a big mirror.  At another one I rounded a corner to see 4 Monks playing cards, modern music was playing good and loud, and three others were checking their cell phones.  All were smoking.  Not my idea of life as a Monk.  You must be at least 20 years old to become a monk and you can be one for as long as you like.  Terms are usually in amounts of 3 (3 weeks, 3 months etc.) Here is a typical day for a monk.

4 am  Wake up and 1 hour chanting, 6 am Walking in the neighborhood to collect food and alms,  8 am Brekkie,  Before noon – a 20160111_143854 lunch, and they will not eat again until sunrise the following morning.  Balance of the day is studying, working at the Wat and chanting.  There are 227 strict rules a Monk must follow.20151230_131048

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