It's Not Nag, It's Just Me

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ngaan Sop

Last year, I had my first experience of a Thai wedding reception and tonight, I had my first Thai modern funeral service. Compared to what we had back in M'sia, at least the Chinese, the Thai service was simple, quick, punctual and relatively quiet.

We had been warned about the punctuality and knowing the service will begin at 7pm, we left the office at 5.30pm, not before I experience a brief situation where I got stuck inside the lift, on 14th floor. But that's another story, or was that a sign? Somemore, on the 14th floor which is a bad number according to the Chinese. But then, being a banana, 13th had always been the unlucky number for me.

We reach the temple, where the service was held, around 6.30pm. We thought there will only be one service but how wrong were we. Being expats, both of us were caught by surprise that this temple actually was holding at least 6-7 funeral services simultaneously. The challenge for us then is to find the right hall.

After some trial and errors, we found the right place and we just followed what others were doing. We observed and then we were politely request to follow the process. Firstly, pay respect to the budhha and then pay respect to the decease. And there's no joysticks involved. The coffin was fully enclosed and place relatively high.

Comparing to what we had in Msia, we will be given joysticks, and will straigth away pay respect to the decease and then we will have the option to take a last look at the decease (as part of paying respect). The coffin will be place in the centre of the hall, and partly opened, so that visitors could paid their last respect. Also, it would be quite noisy. The thing is, we need the noise to liven up the place, to scare away the unwanted spirits all the way past midnight too.

anyway, after paying respect to the deceased, we were ushered to sit and wait for the service to begin, punctually at 7pm by about 4-5 monks. They sat in a special area, and began their chanting while everyone sat with their hands in a praying position. The whole process took about 45 minutes, with a few short breaks in between. No children were seen. Very quite and serious.
After the service, we were given a box with cake and sandwhich and of course the two candies.

Oh...and people are very good at adhering to the dress code. Black and well-dressed too. Unlike Msians, where we do go in Dark blue, dark green, grey, white....

Before we left, we managed to pass the 'envelope' to the deceased's wife. Since it was so early, we ended up at a hotel lounge for a drink and light dinner. Interesting nite.



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