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Archive for July, 2010

Outfits and Etiquette in a temple

Next week, on July 26th and 27th are the important Buddhist festivals; Asalha Puja (วันอาสาฬหบูชา) and Khao Phansa Day (วันเข้าพรรษา), the first day of Rains Retreat. Asalha Puja is a Theravada Buddhist festival which typically takes place in July, on the full moon of the eighth lunar month. Rains Retreat is the traditional retreat during the rainy season lasting for three lunar months from July to October. In Thailand, there is a campaign to stop drinking alcohol in this period; therefore, the first day of Rains Retreat is also called as a National Alcohol-Free day.

Tourists in Thailand might have a chance to go see the festival or visit a temple. They therefore have to know things which is not allowed or supposed to do in the temple and monastery, especially in the sanctuary.

HOW TO DRESS
If people go to a temple fair for example, it is nothing much to worry about the outfits because typically they will go enjoy things, foods, or rides in the fair but not participate in any ceremonies, talk to monks or go inside the sanctuary.

Tourists' outfist for entering Emerald Buddha Temple
Tourists’ outfist for entering Emerald Buddha Temple

However, if they go to any ceremonies particularly formal ceremonies with or without monks, talk to monks, or go inside the sanctuary or monastery, they should avoid wearing see-through shirts, pants or skirts, tight dress, mini skirt and short pants above knees especially for women. At some strict temples such as the Emerald Buddha temple in Bangkok and Soothooanwooarawihaan Temple in Chachuuengsao, they have more conditions about prohibited outfits. You will be asked to change clothes or wear something like a robe over your outfits before entering the place. Nevertheless, slippers are fine because you will be required to take them off when entering a sanctuary.

ETIQUETTE IN TEMPLE
In Thailand, there are levels of politeness. Feet are considered as lower than a head; therefore, it is unacceptable to point feet to a person or anything particularly in a temple or pointing to a Buddha image. To post for taking pictures in a sanctuary, Thai people prefer to sit on the floor in a polite posture.

Regular posture of Thai people in a sanctury
Regular posture of Thai people in a sanctuary

Consequently, the unusual postures such as climbing to the Buddha image, funny postures, or impolite postures by showing women breast are not allowed. Since a temple is considered as a quite and sacred place, some manners such as making noise, cursing somebody, and having sex are not proper to do in a temple.

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  • Thai Condiments (part 1)

    In some countries, customers are required to enjoy their food as the way as it is cooked; however, in Thailand it is freely to add anything in your dish as much as you want.

    For Thais, the condiments which can be seen in restaurants and food stands are as much as important to the food, especially for noodle dish. The four common condiments for noodle dish are sugar(1), fish sauce, chili vinegar and ground dried chili pepper(2).

    Sugar Ground Dried Chili Pepper
    1) Sugar 2) Ground Dried Chili Pepper
    Sliced Chili Vinegar Pounded Chili Vinegar
    3) Sliced Chili Vinegar 4) Pounded Chili Vinegar

    Chili vinegar will be seen widely as sliced(3) or pounded(4) Thai dragon chili marinated in vinegar, although only wonton soup will be added by sliced chili vinegar. Not only dragon chili will be marinated in vinegar, some people prefer to put sliced/pounded garlic or Thai chili (Bird’s Eye Chili) in vinegar together with dragon chili to bring out the flavor.

    Moreover, in a condiment caddy you will sometimes see grounded peanut which is used for Tom Yum noodle (spicy and sour noodle) and Pad Thai noodle.

    Another common condiment which will be seen a lot on every table also in a house is Thai fresh chili in fish sauce (Phrik Naam Plaa(5)). This is popular relish on Thai table. Thais like to add the relish in many dishes. With some chopped garlic and some lime juice, Prik Naam Plaa Manaau(6) is a great relish for a dish like fried fish.

    Thai Chili in Fish Sauce
    5) Thai Chili in Fish Sauce (พริกน้ำปลา)

    Thai Chili in Fish Sauce and Lime Juice
    6) Thai Chili in Fish Sauce and Lime Juice (พริกน้ำปลามะนาว)

    The eating habit of Thai people by adding too much condiment might be strange to foreigners, especially adding sugar to noodles. Some people add around 2-3 tablespoon of sugar to their dried wonton so it is turned out to be wonton in syrup.
    However, not only Thai food which you will see this habit, ketchup or chili sauce is also important to Thai people when they eat pizza. Therefore, you will not be surprised seeing ketchup on a table in a pizza restaurant outside Thailand because Thai customers bring it themselves.

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  • Filed under: Foods & Drinks