13 Jun 2013

Tied in knots

3 Comments Thailand

The midnight horror: five hours on Jetstar, closely resembling a giant airborne coffin, then a couple hours waiting at Singapore, and finally a further three hours on Silk Air with breakfast, smiles, service and comfy seats. You get what you pay for!

Here we are in Chiang Mai. These last few months in Perth while Gillian works, attends meetings and sleeps; and Paul — what does he do? Coffee! I have been cooped up in a small drawer, counting down the days. Travel. Just the mere thought of the word has me trembling with excitement. Makes me feel all woolly, soft and fuzzy.


Our accommodation in Chiang Mai




This is our first Buddhist wedding, not to mention Anna and John's. Their day started early at around 5am to receive blessings from the monks, while we arrived around mid-point, and after a quick shower and change, we were whisked off in a van taking us to the temple. There was a lot of grumbling about the kneeling. Forty-five minutes sitting cross legged, kneeling, fidgeting, being careful not to point our toes forwards in the direction of the head monk. Heads bowed, hands clasped, peeking up and watching Anna and John being looped in string. After a while the chanting became mesmerising and for those of us just off long flights, soporific. Paul must have been nodding off, because the next thing I knew the head monk was smiling and splashing water all over us. Everyone refreshingly cooled. Me, saturated — alright for those of you who are non-shrink. It was only after the ceremony was over that we realised the few monks who were sitting serenely, motionless in the corner, were actually wax dummies. Anna and John looked beautiful and their innocence — not quite knowing what was coming next, added to the fun of the occasion.

Afterwards Anna and John released nine birds from a small grass cage they clasped in their hands; then beers in the street to amused onlookers, followed by the releasing of nine fish from a metal bowl into a nearby stream. I sense a theme here evolving around nine.

Then into the van again where we were taken to a small village.

More chanting. More string. A line of village elders knelt on the floor patiently beside us. Then in sequence each elder rose slowly and proceeded to tie knots of string on Anna and John, gave their blessings … and so on until it was our turn. Pretty soon Anna and John were covered in string. Finally led by the elders and a procession of string we all walked into the marriage bedroom, where Anna and John were officially knotted.




More ceremony … Music … An amazing array of food. All delicious.

I forgot to count. Were there perhaps nine elders?

We walked down to the gardens, the fragrance of Frangipani in the air. Our path was lit by lanterns. In pairs we were handed large (man-sized) hand-made hot air balloons — Fire Lanterns. I had watched one of the elders making them earlier. We hold them high while they are lit and on signal we release them. We do the same again and gaze skywards, straining our necks. Nine fire lanterns disappear slowly into the night sky. It is a fitting and beautiful end to a wonderful day.



Trust me there were nine



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3 Responses to “Tied in knots”

  1. Gillian says:

    Al, you greedy thing! I noticed you were too busy stuffing down spring rolls, duck cooked with loganberries, spicy fish, noodles, marinated tofu and cold beer to take even one photo of the wedding banquet!

  2. Sheina says:

    Thanks Al for this news. It good to have you back. I loved the colours and clothes and rituals although maybe one has to be Buddhist to manage the Whole Day.
    We’ve just returned from a quick Sunday trip to Ballygin to spray as the weather was perfect – sunny and no wind.
    Love to all 3 of you

  3. Mal says:

    Hi there Al,

    After reading your post describing Anna and John’s wedding I couldn’t help but contemplate (while sitting cross legged in front of my new Airwick candle) the possibility that, inadvertently, we might finally have an answer to the age-old question of “How long is a piece of string”. Obviously, long enough to satisfy a Buddhist wedding!!

    I note that Her Majesty has again told her clients that she absolutely “had attend an important conference overseas”.


    Uncle Mal