Rituals in Thai Temples

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Thai temple ritual

การสะเดาะเคราะห์ (kaan-sadɔ̀-khrɔ́) or purification rituals are the rituals in Thai temples that some Thais participate when they visit Thai Buddhist temples.

The ancient Thai people had a belief in supernatural, holy spirits, ghosts, etc. regardless of religion. Since we believe in something we do not see, the purification rituals have become a part of our culture.

In this article, you will see three common purification rituals seen in Thai temples.

Floating Flower Candles based on Birthday’s Colors

color of week

Each day of the week has its color according to Thai belief.

This idea is influenced by Hindu culture in which some deities protect each star including the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn.

Each deity’s body has its color. The days of the week in Thai are named after these stars, so the deity’s color represents each day.

Ritual belief

Some Buddhists believe that floating a flower candle based on their birthday color will give them a prosperous life.

They float all bad luck away from their lives. The light on the candle will bring them a bright life.

Saving Lives of Cattle

Most of the temples have an area where there is a group of cattle chilling and eating. Usually, the temples rescue the cattle from the slaughterhouses.

The visitors are encouraged to buy grasses from the temple and feed them. It is also possible to just donate the money by dropping some amount in a donation box usually placed near the area.

Ritual belief

Some people believe that helping living creatures from danger or death is to make a merit. It is a good practice and all the good things will return to them.

They also believe that helping a big animal like cattle gives a greater merit.


Buddhist people believe in reincarnation. In each life, you can be reborn as different creatures, depending on how you live in the former life.

They believe cattle are the closest creature to human beings. After this life as cattle, they may become human in their next lives.

Laying Down in a Coffin

This ritual is more popular in the north of Thailand but still, you can see it in other parts of the country.

It is done by a person lying down in a coffin with hands facing one another just like the Thai greeting gesture ‘ไหว้ (wâay)’. Their heads should be in the west direction. Their body is covered with white cloth just like a dead body.

Monks touch or hold the edge of the cloth or the rope which is connected to the cloth while they say a certain prayer. This prayer is the same one the monks pray at a real funeral before the cremation.

Meaning of the prayer

This prayer is entitled บังสุกุลตาย (baŋ-sùkun-taay). The word บังสุกุล (baŋ-sùkun) comes from the Pali language pronounced as ปํสุกุล (paŋ sùkùla) which means a dusty cloth. ตาย (taay) is a Thai word that means dead.

This refers to the cloth that is used to cover the dead body. The prayer is chanted in Pali language and the English translation of the prayer is shown below.

All bodies are temporary.
When there is a rise, there is a fall, as in common.
Things happen and end.
Being at peace in the body is happiness.

After monks finish chanting this prayer, the person in the coffin then changes position by switching their head to the east direction.

Then the monks chant another prayer called บังสุกุลเป็น (baŋ-sùkun-pen). The word เป็น (pen) means alive. The meaning of this chanting is as below.

Our bodies, not so long,
will have to fall to the earth.
When the souls leave the bodies,
the bodies become like a log,
no use can be found.

Once the monks complete this บังสุกุลเป็น (baŋ-sùkun-pen) prayer, the whole ritual is then finished.

Ritual belief

This ritual is popular among people who are sick. They pretend that they are dead from this sick body by lying in the coffin and listening to บังสุกุลตาย (baŋ-sùkun-taay).

When they switch positions turning their heads to the east, they believe that they are born again with a new life without any sickness or bad luck.

People who are not sick can also practice this ritual. Some also believe that by being reborn again, they will live longer since they have just started their new lives after the ritual.

To wrap up

These are just three of the many purification rituals in Thai temples which Buddhists practice. Not every Buddhist believes in purification rituals, but many of them do.

These rituals are not limited to Buddhists. It is open to anyone who believes or wants to practice. I personally think that the main purpose of many rituals is to encourage people to do good stuff. Many of them also help generate money for the temples.