The Kwan Duan (Kon Pom Fai) Ceremony

          Kwan, in Thai people's belief, is the spirit existing in their heads and protects them from harm and illness. When a baby is one month old, it is considered to be safe as a "mankind's child". Then the Kwan Duan ceremony is held in order to auspiciously bless the child. If the auspicious occasion is determined to be in the morning, it is customary to invite the monks to perform evening chanting in the day before the auspicious day. This occasion is also a ceremony for laying down the baby into the cradle.

          This ceremony is organized in various extents, basing upon the financial status of the child's parents or relatives. The ceremony comprises of the evening chanting on the day before the auspicious day calculated by the astrologer based upon the child's horoscope (birth time). In the next morning, there is a merit making by offering food to monks then followed by a Brahman ceremony that starts by striking a gong of history exactly at the auspicious time.

        The chairman of the ceremony touches a holy water on to the child's head then uses a razor to touch the hair as if he is shaving the child's hair. The monks perform a Jayanto Pray to bless the child. A Brahman priest hits a Ban Dor (small drum used in Brahmin rites), then the Pin Pat (gamelan orchestra) and Mahoree (Thai orchestra) plays their songs to bless the child.

        When the child's head is cleanly shaved, a Brahma priest performs a bathing rite, using the holy water prepared on the day that the monks perform the evening chanting. The water is normally warm and contained in a big bowl or a bathtub. The child is ritually dipped into the water, and then placed on the mattress in front of the Bai Sri (cooked rice topped with the boiled egg, used as offering). A person who holds a baby is normally the child's grandmother. If not available, a highly respected person can be invited instead. After that, the Brahma performs ritual ceremony by charming and burning Sai Sin (sacred white cord) to keep out evil spirits. The child's hands and feet are then bound and anointed with Kra Jae Powder. Then the Brahman priest ritually feeds the child with coconut water. After that, candles are lit up in 3 glasses to bless the child for three times. The glasses are then passed on to guests and relatives one by one to the left whereas turning their right side to the child because it is believed that the right side is a symbol of auspiciousness. During this time, the Pin Pat (gamelan orchestra) and Mahoree (Thai orchestra) play their songs until the candles revolutionary celebration is completed. The candles are then handed over to the Brahma who will pitch them in the milled rice bowl one by one. When the candles are all pitched in the milled rice bowl, they are squeezed into one candle. The lit-candle is then put out using the betel leaves packed together under the belief that it helps to blow the smoke from God of Fire away from the child at a considerable distance.

          When the candle ritual activity is finished, the Brahman priest prepares a mattress for the baby and place the child's belongings at the cradle's edges and under the pillow. Then the cat that is cleaned and dressed, wearing a collar to imply that it is a domestic animal, is put into the cradle in order to show that the cat is given to the child. The cat is then removed from the cradle and let go. After the child's belongings are completely arranged, the Brahman priest then carries the baby to place into the cradle. Then the ceremony is finished when the Brahman priest singsongs the baby in Brahmin dialogue. (The implied meaning of placing the cat into the cradle is that they wish the child to be easily raised up as the cat)

Note - The Kwan Wan or Kwan Duan ceremony for those who are financially shortage can be a brief ceremony by only binding the Sai Sin at the child's wrisks then shaving off the hair. This is proper for their financial status.

Ritual instruments Preparation
          Prepare tables for Buddha images as appropriate to the place's size and number of monks. Prepare the child's horoscope records, a holy water bowl with a candle, a spool of Sai sin (a sacred white chord) placed in a tray, vases, flower trays, a joss stick basin, and at least a pair of candle bases. A candle is paired with a flower (non-limit amount). Arrange the group of tables mentioned above and place a mat and a cushion for each monk. Also, each mink must be served with refreshments (water, areca palm, betel, cigarette) and a spittoon. In the next morning, each monk must be served with well-prepared food and deserts. Other things may be presented to the monks as the host's wishes. (The Group of Great Teachers: 2516 B.E.:69-72)

The Group of Great Teachers Thailand's Important Traditions and Ceremonies Bangkok Sermwit Bannakarn, 2516 B.E.

Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa
31 Mar 2003