Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blessed Life: Buddhist Edition

If you've ever asked yourself -  Just what is the nectar of the gods? - you've come to the right blog. The answer is...wait, what am I doing? If I just tell you, you might not read the rest of the blog. Well, smartypants, I'm not going to tell you until the end. How do you like that? Get your mouse off that scroll bar.

For this edition of Blessed Life we travel to the Buddhist nation of Thailand.* 

Step one: Walk to the nearest temple. Tourist traps are not as plentiful as they are near Hindu temples, so navigation can be done easily and inconspicuously. Also, no one cares what color skin you wear.

Step two (optional): Purchase flower necklaces, elephant statues, or various fruits to leave in exchange for your blessing.

Step 3: Recruit a gaggle of adorable children to guide you through the prayer process. Payment optional. Ice cream is an acceptable form of compensation.

Step 4: Remove shoes before approaching the alter.

Step 5: Light four sticks of incense with the lit candles in front of the alter.

Step 6: Place the incense between your two palms (prayer position).

Step 7: Kneel in front of the alter.

Step 8: Bow your head to the incense for X number of times. (Warning: If you're busy taking pictures of your colleagues attempts at prayers, you may miss the specifics on appropriate bowing numbers).

Step 9: Stick incense sticks in the big urn filled with sand.

Step 10: Grab the Yahtzee dice tube that is filled with small wooden sticks. Shake the container at chest height (still kneeling) with the opening facing away from you. Shake until one of the sticks shakes out. Give your stick to a child-come-guide.

Step 11: Child-come-guide will hand you a piece of paper with your blessing/fortune on it.

Step 12: Hand it back the child for translation because the blessing/fortune is only written in Thai and Chinese.

Step 13: Several children will read aloud your blessing/fortune - in Thai. Listen politely anyways.

Step 14: Ask them if the blessing is good (thumbs up) or bad (thumbs down). Allow children time to argue this point.

Step 15: If the answer is good, fold the blessing/fortune and stick it in your pocket. If it is bad, allow the children to take it away and then later retrieve it while they are not looking.

Step 16: Put your shoes back on and say goodbye to the child guides.

Now, for the answer to the nectar of the gods question. As far as I can make out, it's Orange Fanta. Straw preferred.**

*This account is written as an amusing account of this outsider's experience with a religion that she knows nothing about. It is written more to entertain and less to inform. It is not in any way meant to trivialize the religion.
**Actually, as it was explained to us, the offerings are allowed to be any widely-available foods or drinks by design, so that all people are freely and cheaply allowed to worship.

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