Before moving into a new house it is customary to have a House Blessing Ceremony first, or Kuhn Bahn Mai ( ขึ้นบ้านใหม่ ). A monk must be consulted first to be given an auspicious date to have the ceremony and move into the new home. The oldest sister in my Thai family, her husband, and two daughters just moved into a new house they have been in the middle of building over the past year. Previously they had been living in a small house in the back of the house I live in, with her mother and younger sister and family.
Preparations for the ceremony began the day before, with family, friends, and community members all helping to prepare the house and cook lots of food. On the day of the ceremony most people arrived between 3 and 7 am. Nine monks arrived in the back of a pick-up and sat down on the line of mats awaiting them in the main room of the house. They passed a sacred white thread called “sai sin” ( สายสิณจน์ ) down the line and each held a portion of it. Earlier the string was wrapped around the outside of the house, beginning and ending at the Buddha shrine inside. The string is thought to keep spirits out and consecrate the house for the blessing. The monks then chant for about 30 minutes in Pali, the language used for Buddhist prayers that is no longer in use today. Each monk sprinkles water into the room and on the friends and family that are prayerfully listening and participating in the blessing. The elders in the crowd give “tambon,” or merit, by scooping rice into the monk’s silver alms bowls and give each monk a gift of daily necessities, like soap, water, and snacks. If a woman is giving something she must be careful not to touch him, as this is prohibited for monks. The monks eat and the blessing concludes with a monk writing a “yant” or Pali symbol of protection over the doorway to the house.