Siam has been called the “Kingdom of the Yellow Robe,” on account of the presence everywhere of large numbers of monks, all of whom wear the yellow robe.
Every man in Siam enters a monastery at some time or other in his life, and lives as a monk for a period varying from a few months to many years, or even for the whole of his life.
The usual age for entering the priestly circle is about nineteen, and the shortest stay that can be decently made is for two months. The person seeking admission goes to the temple wearing his best clothes, and attended by a crowd of friends and relatives, who take presents to the priests.
The presents include rice, fish, matches, fruit, cigars, betel-nut, alarm-clocks, vases of flowers, incense sticks, and dozens of other curious things. These are all distributed about the temple floor, till the sacred building looks as though it were about to be the scene of a glorified “jumble sale.”
Occasionally children enter the temple service and wear the yellow robe. It often happens that when one of a boy’s parents is cremated he becomes a ” boy-monk,” because by this means he hopes to help his father in that other world to which he has been called.
As a rule, too, each monk has a boy servant, or disciple, who cleans out his cell, and does other work of a lowly character for him. Monks may not possess silver money, but these disciples may receive it and spend it
for the benefit of their masters.
Thailand 100 years ago: muang, nakon and krung Bangkok
Thailand 100 years ago: quarters of Bangkok
Thailand 100 years ago: monks in the yellow robe
Text: ERNEST YOUNG, B.Sc.
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