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Wai Khruu ไหว้ครู honour/pay respect to the teacher

By Assunta Hunter

The front of the lecture hall in the grounds of a hospital in Chiang Mai is adorned by a long table laden with offerings of all kinds. An otherwise utilitarian space large enough to hold some 200 people has been transformed by the table bearing offerings on the raised dais at the front of the hall. There are garlands of gardenia, Indian marigolds strewn loosely and in piles, and lotus flowers are poking out of small brass urns; the perfume is overwhelming. Pyramids of limes, bananas and hot-pink dragon fruit are piled on the offering plates. There are coconut and sago desserts, pumpkin and coconut balls, and rice flour cakes all beautifully presented on plates in patterns and decorated with carved flowers. Incense sprouts from every possible flower arrangement and yellow temple candles stand among the many brightly colored floral arrangements and sweet–meats. There are fresh herbs such as ginger (khing ขิง Zingiber officinalis), cassumar ginger (phlaii ไพล Zingiber cassumar) and decorative glass jars of dried and powdered herbs, including cinnamon (opchoei อบเชย Cinnamomum zeylandicum). On a raised altar, there is an image of the Buddha (head and shoulders above all others as is usual: this is a way of expressing his pre-eminent status), the hermit (ruesi ฤษี the ascetic figure closely associated with healing and wisdom) and Jivaka Komarpaj, (ชีวกโกมารภัจจ์) the Buddha’s physician and the head of the Thai healing pantheon. Continue reading Wai Khruu ไหว้ครู honour/pay respect to the teacher