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10000 Monks Assemble in Ceremony of Thailand

Have you ever seen 10000 monks assembled in one place? Most likely not, but I was lucky enough to catch this unique event on camera here in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

It was quite amazing, seeing 10000 monks chanting and collecting alms. This was a profound insight into the Thai Buddhist culture and one of those events that you never forget.

Although this used to be a yearly event, it was discontinued after 2011. So I caught the final time it took place on camera.

The author, Shama KernThe author, Shama Kern, has been living in Thailand and southeast Asia for two decades. When he is not traveling and exploring, he lives with his Thai wife in Chiang Mai. You can reach him at shama@shamakern.com

17 thoughts on “10000 Monks Assemble in Ceremony of Thailand”

  1. In the last few yours in our Western Society accountability and transparency has be come the requirement for all. With freedom of the press it has revealed quite widespread sexual misconduct in our religious organisations. Whereas years ago the churches could hide behind their cloak of holiness, as its been lifted all sorts of things have been revealed.
    And in that process we have seen how far the churches would go to protect their image and the members of their clergy who perpetuated sexual misconduct. We have seen how hypocritical they would be to protect themselves above their congregation.

    And so I have wondered what really goes on behind the walls of the Temples. There are tens of thousands of monasteries in Thailand and its hard to believe that monks don’t cross over the line sometimes.

    What do you reckon?

    • Graham, monks and priests and rabbis and yogis are just people, and people are generally not perfect. We all understand that nobody will become an instant saint just by changing one’s clothes and shaving one’s head. It does not matter what country or what religion we are talking about, we cannot expect perfection from any religious order. I think that the important thing is to see that the monkhood is a gradual path to purification and enlightenment, and some people will go far on that path, and some will not make it very far. But we have to give them all credit for trying.

      One important distinction is that unlike the Christian priesthood which is a full time profession, many monks in Thailand are only monks for a short period of time. This could be from a few days to a few months. They are novices or monks in training, and most of them do not intend to remain monks for their entire lives.

      So this is a learning process, it is a journey of self improvement. It would not be reasonable to expect those who are on this path to be perfect and faultless. Naturally there will be missteps and some lines will be crossed. But the important thing is that they have to be given credit for trying, for making a sincere effort. This is an important mechanism in Thai Buddhist culture and is respected and appreciated by the entire population.

      Whatever it is in life, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t. Nobody in Thailand expects all monks to be perfect, but we all acknowledge their good intentions and their efforts. And if some cross over the line – I would say that this is just normal human behavior and will be present in any religious order in the world.

      • I concern is that in a system which totally protects the religious order, as we have found in the history of our western society, the transgressions can become endemic if there are no checks and balances.

        We can never know.

      • Thank you for sharing this touching video. It was very interesting to watch and touching to see the selfless giving and the respect of all classes given to the Monks whose intent is peace and selfless giving back. I like your response above and I agree, they are all on a path for improvement, purification and enlightenment. I think deep down we all want to be on that path.

        • Thanks Karen, I am glad you liked the video. This was the last time this event happened, so we are lucky to have it on video.

  2. Graham, your point is well taken. However I do not see it as my business to point out what is wrong in this world. There are others more qualified than I who can tackle the problems of the world. I am not a social activist or reformer, but the purpose of my blog is primarily to bring the fascinating and beautiful aspects of life here in Thailand to the attention of my readers.

  3. I really want to visit Thailand. So its on my affirmation list and a prayer request to my higher power. I man that I did childcare for said he lived there for quite some years and loved it so much that is where he intends to retire to. Maybe I can do better there at selling my handcrafted jewelry in Thailand then I have in my state of Connecticut. Who know but I am looking forward to finding out. Thanks for sharing Shama.

    • Visiting Thailand is a great idea. However you should be aware that doing any kind of business in Thailand on a tourist visa is strictly illegal and can get you kicked out of the country. So you better plan on a vacation without selling anything.

  4. This video was very inspiring. Who knows what these people (monks, nuns, yogis) cultivate for humanity. Their large libraries carry many secrets in regards to healing and how to improve the human condition.

    Human beings go through learning processes – I have not walked their shoes… I noticed that some form of Buddhism does not always have the same values than the West. I know I felt good around monks and nuns In the past. Perhaps there are deeper forces at play when they come together honoring the highest in all of us through ceremony, good intention and meditation.

    Which other society brought one million kids together to meditate.



    • That indeed is quite a feat with all those kids.
      I am lucky that I caught the final event of the monk assembly in Chiang Mai. The street where this used to happen has now become a major shopping street with horrible traffic. Instead of 10000 monks there are now 10000 cars.


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