Heet Sib Sorng - Klong Sib See

          People in the northeast have always strictly followed the traditions since ancient times. The traditions have become local practice for hundred of years. The story of Heet Sib Sorng - Klong Sib See is a religious-based belief that was presumably brought there since the Indian culture bandied to this area. The story was called, in short, "Heet - Klong" or locally called "Perng Baan Perng Muang" which means "suitable to practice in society". The story of Heet Sib Sorng - Klong Sib See can be differently described by various elderly persons. However, they are only slightly different. The differences are due to lack of writing or recording techniques so that they were mostly memorized and recalled. Very few of these stories were written.

          Heet Sib Sorng
          "Heet" is abbreviated from the Thai word "Ja Reet", meaning the traditional practice, but northeastern people say the alphabet "H" instead of the "R". Heet Sib sorng is therefore the practices that are traditionally performed in each month of twelve months ("Sib Sorng" means "twelve"). In ancient time, the first month (called "Duan Ai" or "Duan Jiang") represented the start of the New Year and the twelfth month ended the year cycle. Each month had one tradition, mostly Buddhism-based. If the tradition was not Buddhism-based, people deliberately tried to make it Buddhism involved so that they had opportunity to gather at the temple for merit-makings, which are;       

          The first month (Duan Ai): This is in the cool season. The people would arrange the place for monks to practice karma, staying in strict practice for a certain period of time, in the forest or in the cemetery. The practice of karma is called in Bali "Parivas". The objective of the practice is to purify the mind by getting rid of all bad things offensive to Buddhism practices. The people took the opportunity to perform merit making at this period. There is a saying about this month as below;
          - "When the first month arrived, The monks are prepared for practice of karma"

          The second month (Duan Yee) : "Duan Yee, Tum Boon Koon Laan" means that there are activities after harvesting, the thrashed rice grain are piled up in big mounds called "Koom Khao", just like a sand mounds, on the threshing ground. Then, there is a ceremony to worship the Goddess of rice (Chao Mae Po Sop) and to pay respect to spirits of the threshing ground. Some might wish to preach about the rice goddess. There may be ceremony for the spirit of rice before the rice is taken to the storage. Then, there is a ceremony for the spirit of the land (farming field). Woods are collected for their future use, mainly for cooking, as said;
          - "When the second month reached, Do prepare woods for household use"

          The third month : Religious ceremony for "Kao Jee" (broiled sticky rice). In a full moon day of the third month, which is the Makha Buja day, the broiled sticky rice was the main theme of this religious ceremony. To make "Kao Jee"; the cooked sticky rice is shaped in chunks then broiled over the fire like roasted chicken. The cooked chunks of rice are repeatedly coated by using well-broken egg. The sticky cane juice or sugar cane is then tucked inside the rice. This kind of food is prepared very early in the morning and then offered to the monks as a breakfast. Later in the same morning, people gather at the religious Hall (locally called "Hua Jaek"). The monks pray before having their lunch. This occasion is both a religious ceremony and festivity for each village. People have opportunity to attend both religious ceremony and enjoy themselves. There is a northeastern parable saying;
          "When the third month approaches, you should prepare the broiled rice Then tuck it with sticky sugar juice"

          In this month, it has been believed that it is the month to conduct the religious ceremony for rice. People (especially rice farmers) do both offer paddies to monks and conduct religious ceremony for their houses. After the Buddhist ceremony is completed, the Brahmin rice ceremony is followed. The ceremony can be conducted just for traditional purposes i.e. offer paddies to monks then perform a bit of religious ceremony. The main objective is to thank the paddy that is kept in their storage. There is a saying;
          - "When the third month arrived, let's prepare the broiled rice Offer them to monks, then we'd earn merits"

          The fourth month: The religious ceremony in the memorial of "Maha Shart", which was the last great incarnation of the Buddha. In this month, there is normally a "Maha Shart" sermon. The northeasterners preferably call this ceremony "Boon Pa Wes" (Pra Wes San Dorn: the Buddha in this carnation). The is a parable saying;
The third month you should prepare broiled rice
When the forth month approaches, the monk give a Ma tee sermon.

          The time schedule for this ceremony is not strictly fixed. It could be at the end of the third month or the beginning of the fifth month. The "Maha Shart" sermon in the northeast is different from that in the central region in several ways, for example; there is an invitation for monks from 10-20 temples to give a sermon. The scripture can be separated into 30-40 parts. The sermon begins at the early morning and tended to finish within a day. If there are more monks, each monk will give 1-2 parts. But if there is fewer monks, each monk might have to give up to 5 parts of the sermon. The sermon is separated into number of parts because it is intended to match with the number of houses in each village. For example, if there are 80 houses in the village, the sermon will be separated into 80 parts. The sermon includes the chapters of preaches such as "Ma Lai Muen" (Ten thousand garlands), "Ma Lai Saen" (One hundred thousand garlands), and "Ma Ha Shart" in order to match with the number of people joining the same part of the sermon. People who live in different house can join together and take the same part of the sermon. While the monks are giving a sermon, there may be unexpected additional request for extra sermon by people who live in neighboring village. They organize the parade and unexpectedly arrive while a monk is giving a sermon. Having walking 3 rounds about the Hall, the request is proposed to the monk. It is called "Kun Lorn" (unexpected part) because this is no expected occasion. The monk will never know if he is certainly going to face this situation. This kind of activity is one way of encouraging the good relationship between the villages. They occasionally do this activity in return to each other's cerebration. Both merits and friendship are gained. Also, this kind of activity brings along joys and fun. Different group of people can organize this activity and it is considered a major annual religious ceremony in the northeast that attracts a lot of donation.

          Moreover, 4-5 days before the ceremony commences, the young boys and girls help each other to decorate the Hall and temple vicinity. At this occasion, the boys therefore have opportunity to meet and talk to girls so that the atmosphere is so joyful. This is a lovely northeast.

          The fifth month; There is a religious ceremony for Song Kran (Thai New Year festivity). This festival is similar to that conducted in the central region of Thailand. The differences are only of the traditional local plays or traditions of pouring water. Ladies may be allowed to pour water to monks on this occasion either outside or in the monks' residences. The tradition of pouring water is not only conducted on the New Year day but also on the days from middle of the fifth month and, sometimes, it can be extended to the end of the month if the weather is so hot. Besides, there is a formal tradition of pouring water to various Buddha images and monks. At the middle of the fifth month, girls will bring water to bathe monks and Buddha images. In the past 30 years, there is a bathing hall in every temple. The Buddha images are brought to the bathing hall then bathed. During the hot weather, children like going to gather underneath the bathing hall. It is believed that the bathed water has magic to cure illness or expel the diseases. The bathing hall has a wooden floor so that water can pass through so those children can enjoy bathing too.

          The sixth month; there is a religious ceremony for Wisakha Buja day (The annual ceremony commemorating the Birth, Enlightenment, and the Demise of the Lord Buddha). There is a bathing ceremony for monks who can be considered masters who successfully learn and can perform ordination for successors.

          The seventh month; there are various religious ceremonies such as for the spirits of the houses, the tutelary spirit of the city, the spirits of ancestors, the spirit of the village, and the spirit of the farming field (called "Pee Ta Haek") just before farmers start working in their farm. These ceremonies are conducted with the purposes to show people's respect and thankfulness to those spirits. There is a saying;
          - "It's now the seventh month, let's worship Raja Those angels deserve respect and protect us"

          The eighth month; there is a religious ceremony for entering the Buddhist Lent. This is the same as ceremony conducted in the central region of Thailand. A particular preference is to produce the Lent candles made of wax. There is also tradition of giving those candles for the monks' use during the Buddhist Lent. There is a saying;
          - "When the eighth month reached All the monks are to stay only in the temple"

          The ninth month; there is a religious ceremony for the passed away people. The ceremony is called "Khao Pradub Din" meaning "placing the rice on the natural ground". On the fourteenth day of the waning moon of the ninth month, people prepare food, betel palm and betel pepper, and cigarette then wrap them with banana leaves. The wrapped chunks of food are placed on the ground, hung on the trees' branches, or in the shrines. The objective of this ceremony is to give this food to the passed away ancestors or relatives. The ceremony is later preferably conducted in Buddhist way of merit making i.e. conducted by offering food to monks and prays. Some senior people comment that this ceremony has the purpose to thank the land they live on and make the living. In the ninth month, the farming products and natural sources of food such fishes are most prosperous. So the people wish to thank the land for that reason.
          - "The ninth month is the middle of rainy season People are prepared For the placing rice on the ground Offering to monks will be our strength"

          The tenth month; on the full moon day, 15 days from the ceremony of placing food onto the ground, there is actually a ceremony for giving food to ghosts. Some might say that is a farewell to the ghosts i.e. invitation for eating on the last day of the ninth month, then farewell meal on the day that is the middle of the tenth month. In some places, during the ceremony, people do write their names the piece of paper (called "Sa Lark") then put it into the monks' bowl. When the monk saw the Sa Lark, he then calls the tray owner to offer the prepared food to ghosts. There is a saying;
          - "The tenth month has arrived, let's prepare the giving Make it two sets of them Wish the ghost got these giving Let's hope we'd reach Nirvana"

          The eleventh month; there is a ceremony when the 3-month Buddhist Lent is ended. The monks have to perform the offering services. There are full of illuminations, prepared using the tin or coconut shell containing various kinds oil; coconut oil, castor oil, and pork oil, shining at temples all night. The lamps can be made from paper cut in various shapes containing illumination inside. This lamp is another kind of artistic work competition. In the following morning, there is a traditional "Tak Bart Te Wo" (giving alms to monks). At some temples, there may be preparation for "Kao Tib" (magic rice) or even a boat race. As siad;
          - "It is now the eleventh month This is the when the Lord Buddha used to go through and come back The 3-month rainy season is over, now it is time to leave So called the End of the Buddhist Lent"

          The twelfth month; there is a religious ceremony called Khatin, of which the period begins on the first night of the waning moon, the eleventh month until mid of the twelfth month. There are fireworks and boat races called "Suang Hua". The races are meant to be the commemoration of the fifteen families of Naga kings, especially Naga king name Pa Ya Fa Ngum who brought up the Tripitaka (the three parts of Buddha teachings) from the city of Indra Pata (Cambodia). As said;
          - "In this month, we should do boating To wprship the Naga kings used to live underneath the surface"

          In some places, there may be a ceremony of giving the wax castle after the Khatin. Some families may give cottons for monks to make the blanket.

          Klong Sib See
          "Klong" or "Kun Long" rather means the traditional "way of life" but it focuses on traditional moral standard whether that is right or wrong more than the occupational concerns. It matches the word "Tum Nong Klong Dhama" spoken in the central region of Thailand. But the northeasterners say the word "Klong" without the "L" so that it becomes "Kong". For example, if ones behave inappropriately when concerning the traditon, the adults would say "doing things not right to Kong" or "When doing anything, must follow the Heet and Kong". This word is a version said by Pra Ariyanuwat i.e. having the prefix "Heet", that is;
          1. Heet Chao Klong Khun (Mores for the governors). "Khun" is the ruler or governor such as Khun Berm, Khun Lor, or Khun Tung (the central region also had Por Khun Rama Khum Haeng; king of Suhothai)
          2. Heet Tao Klong Pia (Mores for the lords who govern Khuns)
          3. Heet Pri Klong Nai (Mores for servant to behave to their masters)
          4. Heet Baan Klong Muang (The traditions of the country)
          5. Heet Poo Klong Ya (Mores for grandfather (father's father) to behave with grandmother (father's mother))
          6. Heet Ta Klong Yai (Mores for grandfather (Mother's father) to behave with grandmother (Mother's mother)
          7. Heet Por Klong Mae (Mores for father to behave with mother)
          8. Heet Pai Klong Kei (Mores for daughter in law to behave with Son in law)
          9. Heet Pa klong Lung (Mores for uncle to behave with aunt)
          10. Heet Luk Klong Laan (Mores for son/daughter to behave with their children)
          11. Heet Tao Klong Kae (Dhama for men to behave with children)
          12. Heet Pee Klong Duan (i.e. Heet Sib Sorng: the traditions for twelve months)
          13. Heet Hai Klong Na (Mores for farming field)
          14. Heet Wat Klong Sonk (Mores for temples and monks)

Bibliography

Siriwat Khumwansa. The story of the northeast: the local folk plays. Department of archeology,


Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa
21 Feb 2003
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