Summer Ordination of Buddhist Novices
By THA SC
Hatyai, Thailand, 15 March 2023 --The Salesian Educational Institution in Thailand provides education for children and young people according to Don Bosco's spirit, to make them good citizens of the nation and good believers according to their religion.
In Thailand, the number of Catholics is only 0.4% of the total population, or representing 400,000 people out of a population of over 70 million. In our schools, more than 95% of the students are Buddhists. The school is therefore an important apostolic field.
The students absorb the atmosphere of love and gospel values through the various activities organized by the school. Aside from this, the Catholic students receive special attention by means of teaching catechism, spiritual recollections and the reception of the sacraments.
In conjunction with evangelization, we also encourage the children to lead good lives according to their religion.
For this reason, Saengthong Vitthaya School, a Salesian school in southern Thailand, in conjunction with the Alumni Association and the Parents - Teachers Association led by Mr.Phudit Pongarcha, the alumnus president, organized the ordination ceremony for 101 novices (Buddhist monks) in the summer. This is held for the 10th time, from 11-25 March 2023 at Wat Khao Suea. On this occasion, it was an honor to have the Salesian Rector and the school director join in the ceremony.
Before the start of the ordination ceremony, the villagers have a custom to bring a novice to his parents and the respected elders to have the locks of their hair cut, and after this, the monks would shave all the remaining hair on the head. To shave one's hair means to cut off worldly things and disregard one's appearance. On this occasion, Father Anthony Restelli, the Rector, Bro. Thanad Anan, the school principal, and representatives of the parents cut the pupils' locks, to give blessings to them and bring them good luck.
Because of the active participation from all the parties involved, especially the parents, the activity was able to achieve the set objectives.
In addition, ordination in Buddhism can be divided into two types:
1. Ordination of a male aged 7-20 years old, who can be ordained for a temporary period of time. This is called the ordination of a novice (lower ordination). Novices will study religious teachings. practice spiritual meditation and also practice living together as a group, to know how to work as a team, know how to sacrifice, have a spirit of volunteerism, being considerate, like helping to wash the dishes and helping to clean the accommodation, etc.
2. After a period or when the novice reaches 20 years of age, the novice can be considered for the upasampadā ordination (or "higher ordination") whereby the novice becomes a monk (bhikkhu), both for a short period of time or may be ordained for life.
We hope that the seeds of goodness that the Salesians have tried to plant in the minds of the children, regardless of their religion, will grow and bear fruit. These virtues are the work of the Holy Spirit. We are just sowers and care-takers. God is the source of growth.