The 
  rite of Bai Sri Su Kwun

"Strongly believed in their unique traditions and customs, Thai people have always been holding on the ritual ceremony on important occasions of their lives concerning "Kwun"(Spirits or soul), for example, Rub Kwun Dek ( To bring back the child's spirits ), Tum Kwun Nak ( to restore a person's spirits before getting into monkshood ), and the rite of Bai Sri Su Kwun in welcoming ceremony for important persons."


            The rite of Bai Sri Su Kwun, which its origin is still unclear, is proceeded by a person called "Mor Kwun"(a witch doctor), who cannot tell us either when this ritual activity first began. Presumably, it could begin since the very old time. Thais believe that all individuals has their own natural resource called Kwun (Spirits), which would take care of them throughout their time of living at anywhere they are.

            The word "Kwun" is intangible i.e. it is invisible and untouchable, but it is noticeable by feelings. If one's Kwun was still with him/her, he/she would normally feel happy. In contrary, if one's Kwun was not with them, one would feel differently. Thai people believe that the rite of Bai Sri Su Kwun is a ritual activity that would encourage their mental strength. The strong mind would support them to, as they wished, succeed their tasks .

            The word "Bai Sri" means auspicious rice, a symbol of lives related ceremony.

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Bai Sri

          Bai Sri is made of banana leaves stitched into three levels ,that contains rice, and essential elements, which are lotus, prosperous candle, young coconut juice, 3 candle trays, 9 ordinary candles, and a white holy string. Bai Sri, in this occasion, represents the society must strongly hold on 3 moral principles. 3 levels of Bai Sri represent

  1. Physically well behave
  2. Verbally well behave
  3. Mentally well behave
  • Lotus represents 4 groups of lotus and, here, emphasize on the 4th group that rise above the water surface, ready to bloom when the sun rises.
  • Prosperous candle represents brightness and wisdom.
  • Young coconut juice represents pure minds.
  • 3 candle trays represent the 3 worlds; physics, image, and non-image.
  • 9 ordinary candles represent 3 sets of fire.
  1. Fire is Raka (craving)
  2. Fire is Tosa (anger)
  3. Fire is Moha (rage)

            (Each candle tray is attached with 3 candles)

            A white holy string represents a hoop of commitment.

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The rite of Bai Sri Su Kwun in Northeast of Thailand

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the rite of Bai Sri for new students, at National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), Bangkok.

            In summary, Kwun is a symbol of Thai lifestyle since the ancient time. Kwun is only with alive person, that is, the dead people no longer possess Kwun. The purpose of calling back Kwun or the rite of treating Kwun (Tum Kwun) is to bring happiness and auspiciousness in order to happily live in the present society.


Extracted from the rite of Bai Sri for new students, at the institue of Rajapat Thonburi on 2 July 2000.

picture from:
http://kanchanapisek.co.th/kp8/kkn/kkn302.html

http://www.everykids.com/worldnews/bysri/bysri.html

Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa


22 March 2001


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