Trip to Chaiyaphum for the Brutal Ordination Parade

This week I’m in Chaiyaphum for a unique ordination parade that takes place every year at Wat Ta Khaek in Ban Non Salao. The Thai name of the procession translates as The Brutal Ordination Parade. For four hours, the men are carried around the village on bamboo stretchers. These are swung violently from side to side and up and down. If they fall off they cannot become a monk. It’s a kind of endurance test where young men have to show their real intent in becoming a monk.

Date of trip: 30 April – 2 May 2015

DAY ONE: Today I’m going to Chaiyaphum to take pictures at The Brutal Ordination Parade. Chaiyaphum is in Northeastern Thailand between Khorat & Khon Kaen. It’s 340 kms from Bangkok. Journey time is about 5 hours.

Statue of Phraya Phakdi Chumphon (อนุสาวรีย์พระยาภักดีชุมพล), the first Governor of Chaiyaphum.

Prang Ku (ปรางค์กู่) is a stone sanctuary in Chaiyaphum town from the Khmer period.

Eating Som Tam & Laab Phet (duck) at “Ban Champ Lok” (Home of World Champion) in Chaiyaphum.

Veerapol (ธีระพล สำราญกลาง) is a former WBC & WBA Bantamweight Champion & now runs a restaurant in Chaiyaphum.

The Chaiyaphum version of Tuk Tuk/Songtaew. I wonder if the drivers are more honest than the Bangkok ones.

DAY TWO: Today, nine men will ordain at Wat Ta Khaek in Ban Non Salao. But only if they survive the “brutal” parade

The partying has already started in Ban Non Salao in Chaiyaphum. Or are they still drinking from last night?

Two young men having all of their hair cut off by family members in preparation of becoming a monk.

One of the ceremonies to become a monk is the hair cutting. This also includes eyebrows.

Before the young men become monks, they are known as Naak (นาค).

One of the good things about taking photos at people’s homes during ceremonies is that they usually invite you to eat.

Wrist binding ceremony (พิธีบายศรีสู่ขวัญ) where elders tie white string around the wrist of the men becoming monks.

One of the customs in Ban Non Salao before the ordination ceremony is to offer a Mon Khit (หมอนขิด), a Thai pillow.

The young men who have the intention of becoming a monk at Wat Ta Khaek have started to arrive at the temple.

The bamboo stretchers that the young men have to ride for 3 hours. If they fall off they cannot become a monk. Easy?

Before the ordination ceremony, the nine young men go to pay respects at the village shrine.

A short religious ceremony at the temple with the nine young men before the start of the parade.

The men leave the temple on their friend’s shoulders & onto the bamboo stretchers. They cannot touch the ground.

The young men have to hang on for dear life as the bamboo stretcher is shaken violently, up & down & side to side.

The 4 hour parade is like an endurance test. If they don’t fall off, then it must mean they really want to be a monk.

Many Thai men become monks because it’s expected of them. The men of Ban Non Salao have to show real intent.

DAY THREE: The nine young men passed the “endurance test” yesterday & they were finally ordained as monks at 4am.

None of the newly ordained monks have broken bones, but this one looks like he has been through the wars.

Time for some spicy Isaan food for lunch before heading back to Bangkok.

Some great Isaan food at Gai Yang Tha Chang on Highway 201 in Nakhon Ratchasima. Map:

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