We had a busy, busy day today!
I spent this morning at the local Thai wat, where they were celebrating a festival called Thod Kathin (ทอดกฐิน). This is a holiday that heralds the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent season. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but I somehow ended up in the middle of a crowd surrounded by people carrying alms bowls, silk parasols and wire trees covered in money. I was carrying a saffron monk's robe, processing around the wat to the sound of Thai drums and yodeling at the top of my lungs with the other women while being pelted with hand-folded paper bows and coins wrapped in aluminum foil.
I am now officially convinced, by the way, that all holidays should include yodeling as part of their repertoire. Yodeling makes everything more fun.
Anyway I was a little nervous about going at first; there were people attending from as far away as Oregon. I wasn't sure I would see anyone I knew and I would be pretty well completely lost as far as what to expect. Normally I'm downstairs in the library studying Thai; I don't participate in the religious ceremonies at the wat as I'm not Buddhist, so I don't know very many people at the temple. Luckily I found my Thai teachers pretty quickly and some of the other students as well, and they were gracious enough to let me tag along with them and to explain what was going on to me.
It was interesting sitting and listening to the speakers around me-- most of whom were conversing in Thai-- because I could pick out the occasional word but otherwise was completely lost. I imagine this might be a little bit like how Ellen might feel when she gets here and is surrounded by English speakers, though her English is probably considerably better than my Thai is right now.
Anyway, it was a very enjoyable experience and I've now officially survived my first Thai holiday celebration. I'm so glad that we have such a vibrant Thai community here and that they've been so welcoming and open hearted. I can't wait to try out my yodeling skills with Ellen next year!
I left before the ceremonies inside the wat began and headed back home to relieve our respite care worker and get ready for church. Sundays are full days in our house around here. It's the first week I've been able to go for a little bit because Connor goes with me, and the past couple of weeks he's been either sick or recovering from a seizure so we've stuck close to the house. When the minister saw that Connor was attending this week, in addition to speaking the sermon she also signed it as well! She's fluent in ASL, which is similar enough to SEE that Connor seems to get the gist of most of what is said. Granted, Connor is way more interested in the music than in the sermon right now, but what six year old isn't? It's still pretty fantastic, and as he gets older he'll probably pay more attention.
After the obligatory after-church Connor Fan Mobbing that I've come to expect (I swear the kid attracts grandmothers like bees on a beer can) we headed for home. We got there at about seven in the evening, and the little guy promptly crashed.
It was a very full day!
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