Thursday, October 31, 2013

So I was all prepared to miss the Halloween festivities this year, I even watched Ichabod Crane before I left cuz I knew I’d get nothing of the sort here. How silly of me! Halloween is a big deal in some parts of Thailand. But it’s different than our American holiday. For one thing, ghosts are very real. Buddhists believe that the spirits of those who have gone on and not been reincarnated yet dwell near their families or the places they died. There are spirit houses on nearly every piece of property, small buildings like elaborate bird houses where the spirits can live without bothering the inhabitants of the houses that now stand on the land. The families present offerings daily and even have to add additions when the real houses undergo renovations so that the spirits will be appeased rather than jealously move into the nicer, human homes. So, when they celebrate Halloween it’s with a sort of ghoulish realism that involves a bit of the Day of the Dead and old fashioned All Hallows Eve type full of superstitions and beliefs. People dress up but it’s almost always something dreadful and gory. There is no trick-or-treating but there are plenty of parties.

At school, the kids all dressed up and we ventured over to the elementary school for some games and celebrations. They had coffins and blood and mayhem strewn all along the grounds. There were typical games but they were tweaked just a bit to make them more gruesome; like trying to eat the donuts dangling by a string (and dipped in jelly to look bloody), or sticking your hands in a box of cold spaghetti and being told they were brains (there was also a box filled with real live snakes and one with giant frogs). There was a short story that I couldn’t understand because it was all in Thai but it involved the gardener dressed up as some sort of freaky mud demon jumping out and banging cymbals together and then chasing the kids around the grounds. It scared me! And there were all kinds of kids in tears and having hysterics. This, it seems, was the goal. The more tears the better! It was definitely more intense than any school party we ever had in the States (ie, if we’d tried half of those things there would have been lawsuits galore!) All in a day’s adventures here in Thailand. Happy Halloween!

These are two of the other teachers. The one on the right has her head down but she pretty much looks like the chick from The Ring--creepy!

an example of a spirit house

No comments:

Post a Comment