The Bamboo Rooms

Child monks in Thailand.


Buddhism is the main religion of Thailand and interacts within all aspects of life including choosing special days for marriage or other important events. In Thailand, young male monks (called nen or samanera) are a fairly common sight. Very often they have taken vows only temporarily. They may do it during the phansa (rainy season) period, during summer holidays from March to May, or just for a few days in order to make merit when a parent or grandparent has passed away. This is in a sense a repayment of a debt owed to family members for being under their care as a young child. It shows respect. Keng first became a monk when he was 8 when his grandmother passed away. He was a monk for only a few days but he also studied at the temple every weekend when he was a child. It was here that his amazing artistic talent was discovered as he helped to paint the temples with the ornate Buddhist designs. It is also here that his ajarn taught him the ancient art of bamboo tattoo. When a child becomes a monk it is a very proud moment for the family and usually after a few days learning the art of medication the child will actually become more settled and calm and often do better in school. It is always the first of many times and there will be a big ceremony and the whole family will gather for this momentous occasion Throughout their lives Thai males will usually become a monk a few times. Keng has personally been a monk three times. Firstly as a child when his grandma passed away. Second in his early twenties where he was a monk for about a year to study the early scriptures and the magic of the Sak Yant and finally when his mother passed away.