Ceremonies are all about community and a friendly and welcoming spirit. My favorite Thai tradition is the string tying ceremony. The Thai string ceremony is a wonderful ceremony full of positive energy! On special days and to commemorate special occasions, Thai’s make you feel welcome by tying string around your wrist, think friendship bracelet. String, lots of string, is cut to fit a wrist and draped on a beautiful ornate arrangement made of banana leaves. A village elder opens the ceremony with a chant as those near him touch him or the arrangement. All those behind touch the person in front so a chain is created. Then, one by one, all proceed to take some string, called sai sin, from the ceremony's centerpiece, called Bai Si. While wishing good luck, health, etc. you tie the string around someone’s wrist so that by the end of the ceremony, all wrists are bound in friendship and hospitality. There is a definite positive energy created.
Being a Thai ceremony, there is of course a hierarchy of who is closest to the center and who gets the first string tied to their wrist. As a bit of a local celebrity, I am typically in front and most participants want to make sure I feel welcome. I have had the good fortune to be included in five string ceremonies: the Peace Corps welcome dinner, my training host family saying good bye, a Thai dancer welcoming me to my site (who later became my exercise teacher, friend, and all around support system), at a healthy living conference, and today at a meeting for HIV positive patients, a group I will blog about soon. The string bracelets are meant to be kept on for at least 3 days to benefit from the good luck bestowed. Typically they are left on longer and it is a common sight to see people having many on their wrists.
It is a Thai tradition I plan to bring home to the states with me! One of many.
The ceremony begins
The good wishes bestowed on Bobby and me