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Sun 30 Apr 2017
Fire Hair Shaving
Wednesday, 13 August 2003 23:30

The alarm clock at the top of my bed is waking me up. I reach out to turn it off. Tai is still sleeping so I shake her and say “Wake up, it’s time now”. She opens her eyes and starts yawning. She still doesn’t get up. It is nearly 7 o’clock so I get out of bed and walk to the window. I open the curtains. The sun is already bright enough to annoy Tai. It works! She sits up and says; “What’s going on with you?”

It is really unusual for me to get up this easy; it’s usually the other way around! I am very excited about today so last night I didn’t really sleep much. Today is a special day, not for me, but for my daughter. She is going to have her hair cut in a special ceremony at the temple!

In English it is called “fire-hair shaving” because it is the first time she will have her hair cut. This is an important Buddhist ceremony for the newborn child, one month and one day after they are born. It’s a Thai tradition for welcoming a newborn baby into the family.

It’s nearly half past seven by the time we leave home. We quickly head to my grandmother’s house to meet up with the rest of my relations. On the way there, my grandmum calls and asks me to pick a nice looking lotus leaf in a pond near her house. I am wondering what it is for.

When we arrive at my grandmother’s house, they are all there waiting for us. I show my grandmum the lotus leaf I picked and ask her what it is for. She replies, “It will be used as a container for the hair. We keep all of the hair in the leaf for three days and then float it on the river.”

Tai is now holding our sleeping daughter in her arms and starts walking to the temple. I pick up the offerings for the monk and quickly follow her. A few minutes later we arrive at the monk’s kuti and pay him respect. This is the same monk that blessed my motorcycle last year.

I sit down at the table and offer the food we brought. The monk then starts chanting something in Pali while I am holding the baby. He uses two fingers to hold some of her hair without touching her head. The monk isn’t allowed to touch the female sex even a baby! Then he picks the scissors up to cut some hair and puts it on the lotus leaf. He is chanting non-stop. He does the same thing a few times more before he finishes the ceremony with pouring some lustral water all over us.

We get up and pay the monk respect and head back to my grandmum’s house. The baby is still sleeping. Now we are back at the house and she still doesn’t wake up. What a sleepyhead! So cute. I put her down and my grandmum starts shaving the rest of the hair. I come over and watch closely.

My grandmum is shaving the hair very slowly as she is scared that the blade will cut the baby’s head. The hair is very soft so it’s very difficult to shave. Then the baby wakes up making the work even more difficult. The baby is starting to cry. I feed her some milk and then she stops. It takes quite a long time to finish the job. But finally my grandmum does it!

I am feeling so pleased that the ceremony is now over. My grandmum tells me that I cried a lot during my fire hair shaving ceremony 18 years ago. I am proud to be Thai and it makes me even more proud that I am passing Thai tradition onto the next generation. I will teach my daughter all about Thai culture so that she will behave properly and set a good example when she is ready to start school.