Khon Juk (Top Knot Cutting Ceremony)

          At present, because of the widespread of global changes and new cultures, there are hardly Thai children who wear topknots. This ancient ceremony, which has been our heritage for generations, is fading out, and will be soon left only in our memories. One of the reasons being that the Top Knot cutting ceremony is considered too delicate compared with a normal hairstyle. In the case of girls, a long hair is quite fashionable.

          In the old times, when the children turn to be teenagers (13 years old for the boys, and 11 years old for the girls, referring to the Indian principle of beliefs) that is similar to the European tradition called "the Coming of Age", there must be a ceremony for this occasion so called "Khon Juk" or the "Top Knot Cutting" Ceremony.

          It was usual that the Top Knot Cutting Ceremony to be held together with other auspicious ceremonies such as the New House Merit Making ceremony and the Birthday Merit Making because it was also considered a spiritual and auspicious ceremony.

          There was an evening chanting on the day before, then the ritual activity was performed in the following morning by offering food to monks. The Child's Top Knot was cut at the auspicious time. The candle revolution ceremony, which is a Brahmin ritual activity, was performed in the afternoon in order to bless the child.

          The extent of the ceremony was based on the host's financial status. It would be more economical if the Top Knot Cutting ceremony was held at the same occasion with the other ceremonies.


    1. Let the astrologer to cast a horoscope for the child in order to calculate the most exact auspicious time for the ceremony, which should be carried out for 2 days. There should be an evening chanting in the first day. The offering food to monks should be carried out in the next morning and followed by the Top Knot Cutting ceremony.


a. Beautifully decorate the place for the ceremony such as cloth or silk ornamental fringe, a many-tier state umbrella (for civilians, either use 3-tier or use none), then decorated by banana tress, sugarcane, and alternate-colored clothes. The surrounding columns of the ceremonial hall are decorated with five elements including the carved banana trees and carved pumpkin, together with scented leaves and flowers.
b. Prepare cushion for monks and set up the table set for Lord Buddha images, worship offerings, and Sai Sin (a reel of white sacred cord).
c. Set up the table or bench to place auspicious ritual items.
d. Prepare bowl for the holy water (Na Mon) and anointment items.
e. Invite an astrologer or a Brahman priest to perform the ceremony.
Besides these essential items, the twelve auspicious items should be also prepared. These are;

Three auspicious ritual elements

1. Auspicious Buddha: the Buddha image (to quench the distress)
2. Auspicious Dharma: the Buddha mantra (the spell to quench the danger)
3. Auspicious Monk: the Buddhist monk (to cure the malady)

Eight auspicious ritual elements

1. Siri Patta Mongkol: the auspicious items such as Bai sri and Candle glasses (for good prosperity)
2. Karundha Kupa Mongkol: the auspicious items such as water container (for prosperous consumption).
3. Sungkha Mongkol: the auspicious conch (for prosperous living).
4. Sowanna Rachadhadhi Mongkol: the auspicious treasures (for financial prosperity).
5. Vajira Jakhavuth Mongkol: the auspicious weapons such as charka (for prosperous power).
6. Vajira Khata Mongkol: the auspicious baton "diamond bludgeon" (for devils spirits).
7. Angkusa Mongkol: the auspicious instrument such as the elephant hook (for protecting danger).
8. Chatta Tacha mongkol: the many-tier umbrella and auspicious flags (for prosperous fame)

A principal auspicious verbal blessing

1. This is a candle revolution ritual activity and blessings (to assure all prosperity in life)

    2. The evening ritual ceremony: For the first day's evening chanting, the ordinary child is normally bathed and dressed with new clothes prepared for the Brahman Top Knot Cutting ceremony during the Tri Yumpawai that is annually held at the Brahman monastery. For those who arrange the ceremony at their homes can bathe their child and dress up the child in the way they wish, which may start from shaving off the hair around the knot and decorating the knot with beautiful ornamental pin, then put on flower garland around the knot. The child receives face make-ups and is dressed up in the outfit that is decorated with many kinds of jewelry including ankle bracelets, wrist bracelets, neck bracelets, and a pendant, depending upon their ability to obtain such jeweled decorations.

          After the dress up is done, the child is taken to sit at the position for the ritual ceremony in front of the for auspicious tray that contains a reel of Sai Sin (white sacred cord). A Sai Sin loop called "Mongkol" should be prepared for placing onto the child's head after the chair of the ceremony has lit up the candles and the monks start chanting. When the chanting is finished, the Mongkol can then be taken off from the child's head and the child is taken off the ceremony.

          In the next morning, the child is fully dressed by white clothes and decorated with jewels as in the previous evening. The child wears a coif but not wearing any shoes. The child is taken to the ceremony and positioned before the face-washing bowl and the coif-tray placed in front of the Mongkol tray. A person who would shave off the child's hair takes off the coif and places it onto the tray. The person then separates the knot into three locks. The tail of each lock of hair is then tied up with the Sai Sin, the ring of nine different gems (implying four of nine stars of astrology), and the bel tree leaves.

      When the auspicious time arrives, the astrologer strike the gong of victory, then the monks chant "Chayanto", and then the Pin Pat (gamelan orchestra) and Mahoree (Thai orchestra) plays their songs. The chair of the ceremony then cuts the first lock of hair, the highly respected relative cuts the second lock, and the child's father cut the third lock. However, it depends on the host to invite any person to cut the hair locks. Once all three locks of hair are all cut off, the shave person shaves off all the remaining hair then takes off the necklace that cannot be wet. The child is then taken to sit at the position that is arranged for pouring holy water contained in treasury containers. The guests then pour holy water to the child starting from the most senior to the least senior respectively. When the ritual holy water pouring is done, the child is then re-dressed up accordant to their gender in order to clearly present that the child has now passed the childhood. After the child is already dressed up, the child must present essential items to monks by his/her own. When the monks finish afterwards blessing, the child can then go back and change the dress and rest until 4-5 p.m., the time at which the child has to dress up again to attend the Brahman rite. At this time, there are no more Buddhist monks. But, instead, the Brahman priests are in charge. Pin Pat and Mahoree play their songs during the candle revolution ceremony. The child must sit behind the Bai Sri table. The Brahman priest performs "Tum Kwan" (bringing back the spirit) in Brahman ritual way by, that is, tying up the wrist, anoint the Kra Jae powder to the child's head, feeding the child with coconut water, and ending the Brahman ceremony by performing 3 rounds of the candle revolution.

          (Note - The Bai Sri has been an original Thai tradition for a long time. The candle-glasses revolution is the Brahman activity that Thais add on as an extra ritual activity).

          Note - If it is a royal Top Knot Cutting ceremony i.e. for the person ranking the royal prince or higher, it is called "So Kun Royal Ceremony". (The Group of Great Teachers. 2516 B.E.: 76-83)


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

Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa
17 April 2003