A few months ago I was invited to a “Tham Boon Keen Baan Mai” or a type of housewarming for some friends who were expanding their business; the superb “Dash Teak House” restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In the Buddhist tradition no one is allowed to use the new expansion until the ceremony is performed. Three monks clad in saffron robes and an elder from a local temple were invited to perform the ceremony.
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The area where the service was performed was filled with candles, colorful ribbons, flowers and other offerings. Incense were burned and a long white string called a “sai sin”, that symbolically connects everything together, was tied all around the area and into each new room. We all sat together in the sala while the monks chanted, read ancient Pali scriptures, and blessed the area to rid it of bad luck, bad spirits and to apologize to any spirits that were disturbed during the renovation. The eldest monk dipped flowers into begging bowls filled with lustral (holy) water and used them to sprinkle blessings over the space and the participants.
I understood very little of what was going on, and I am sure I have muddled up some of the details, but it was beautiful and gave a feeling of interconnectedness and community with everyone there. Afterward there was a delicious feast of delicious Thai and Issan food and everyone sat around and basked in the afterglow. It was truly an honor to be invited to such a special event.