Thursday, December 17, 2015

The First Pillar Ceremony

Pae and I don't get home very often, but Pae had to fly home to take care of some business with the Land Ministry and the bank (bank stuff we actually ended up doing here in town). The same weekend was to be the "ground breaking" ceremony of sorts. Honestly, the ground had already been broken as the contractor had to drill holes in the ground for the support columns of the apartment.

In Thailand, rather than a ground breaking ceremony, they hold one called (translation) a First Pillar Ceremony which is held before anything is built above ground level. It kind of "connects" the building to the ground spiritually. It seeks permission from the spirits to build there, to be there, to live there. It is basically asking for the blessings of the spirits. The Thai term is "Phiti Yok Sao Eak" (พิธียกเสาเอก) which I guess has the literal translation of "stand up the first pillar".

It is a very important ceremony for any new home or business to be built, so it was important that both Pae and I attended. Pae flew first and I was to meet her from the next morning's first flight which would arrive just minutes before the ceremony was supposed to kick off at 9:09 am. (9 is an auspicious number for Thais).

As it was, I was delayed. Pae had to leave the ceremony to come get me at the airport and even then, the shaman who was "hired" to do the ceremony, had another ceremony to attend so he started early, even before the 9:09 contracted time...so much for tradition and superstition ;)
Pae and I at our apartment ground breaking ceremony called "Phiti yok sao eak"
I missed the part where the shaman did his chanting and blessing, but the rest of the family was there making sure things went as they were supposed to go. The first and second pillars of what would become our apartment were officially raised after everything was blessed.
The shaman blesses the items used in the ceremony. Our family (Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie x2) participate in the blessing. Pae was on the way to pick me up at the airport, so missed this part.
 They were raised with some items attached per the ceremony's tradition...leaves, banana plant, fish trap, etc. I'm not sure the symbolism of each item, but it's mostly for good luck and more luck as most things are here.
Wooden stakes, fake gems, coins (99 coins I'm assuming) all hold some symbolism along with the fish trap and various plants and trees that were used in the ceremony
The family stood in for us as the first pillar went up, then the rest of the pillars that "participated" in the ceremony.
The shaman affixes symbolic foliage to the "first pillar". I think the "second pillar" had the fish trap on it.
I was able to make the lunch and also threw coins and special water into the pits that held the pillars. It was interesting, similar to when we had our wedding; I just happily did what I was told ;)
And up goes the first pillar "Ruay ruay der!!"
Tossing coins into the base of the first pillar. Aunties in the background shouting "Ruay ruay Der" which means "Rich, rich"...Asking for blessings.

Here are some pictures. If I learn more about the Yok Sao Eak ceremony, I'll post more details.
It would be propped up until cement was filled in and hardened
Ruay ruay der!!
And there we have it

1 comment:

mardenheyjude said...

Guy and Pae: Beautiful story. What a nice ceremony to have at the very beginning of the project. If we were building an apartment here, we would not have any kind of ground breaking ceremony. The only ground breaking ceremonies we have here are when the state or city is building a school or hospital and the ceremony includes a bunch of "empty suits" (politicians) picking up dirt with a shovel and throwing it onto the ground. No prayers, no chants, no big deal. Your ceremony sounds and looks like a beautiful thing. Good Luck... Love always, Auntie

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