Today, a few people from my office took us to a local village to celebrate Poi Sang Long, a festival in which Shan boys are initiated into the monkhood at the local monastery. The holiday is celebrated in many villages in Burma and in a few Shan communities here in Thailand. Young Buddhist boys are all required to become monks at some point, but only for 9 days; many will remain monks for about a month, and then they will go back to their homes in time for the new school year.
We showed up around 8am, and the parade was in full swing. Women and men were both dressed in colorful Shan clothes, and everyone carried gifts for the monks. The novice monks were being carried on people’s shoulders, owing to a dearth of horses here in Thailand. By 9am or so, the procession ended at the monastery, where we were assailed with free snacks, juices, and coins wrapped in gold and silver foil for good luck.