Tobacco, ricewine and betelnuts. Sticky rice, fruitjuice and fish. And not to forget a big pig`s head with yellow candles in his nose. The time is about 6 o´clock in the morning. I am in Thailand, more precisely in the remote area of Surin (Isaan). Its still cold, but the sun is just starting enlightening the foggy grass. I am invited to participate in an animistic ritual. Familiy and neigbours gather to offer food and drinks to the “dead” friends and relatives. And they offer food which they liked (a central argument for the continuum of traditional thai food). In a thai cosmology the deceased are not dead in the sense of end of existence. They are in another sphere and can be contacted ritually. They serve their ancestors food while talkning to them. Not unlikely the way western chritians speak at the grave. Some also laughing and asking for lottery numbers. However, they didn`t win. But superstition or not. I argue that such a focus missing the point. Because as Noom said “we really don´t know if they are there or not. But it is important to remember our forefathers and mothers. They gave us life itself. Wouldn´t you be remembered after your death?” I realised the enormous power and comfort to belong to a tradition where neighbours, friends and family anually ritually remembering you after death. The ide that you will “never” be forgotten gives strenght to both this life and the potential life thereafter. Sometimes the most rational choice is to get unrational, disconnect the logical thinking and participate, yes even surrender temporarily to another worldview. When putting “yourself” in paranthesis, new knowledge are allowed to enter your being.
Four hours driving from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, we finally reach the small places Fang and Thaton. A small curly road lead us to the legendary buddhist monk´s temple on the mountain top. The monk Kruba Sitthi is abbot of the temple Wat Pang Ton Dua, and today we are here to be present to a blessing cermony. The materials of a new batch of magical amulets are going to be sacralized. Alot of prominent monks from Thailand are gathered at this remote temple, but where is Kruba Sitthi?
Suddenly an ambulance comes to the temple. All the attention draws toward the old monk who is carefully put in a wheelchair. All the people are bowing with greatest respect for the venerable Kruba Sitthi. His physician places him in the center of the cermony and white strings goes from the monk´s hands to the amulet material. In Thailand there is a belief that some monks have “saksit”, or holy power that can be transferred to objects like amulets. And by keeping and worship these magical objects, they can protect its wearer.
I buy a couple of them from the temple´s shop before I leave. They have an image of the charismatic Kruba Sitthi and will always remind me of this special meeting and moment of time. For me that´s a kind of power too.