At the beginning of every academic year in Thailand – usually in October but some schools do this in January or even June – every Thai student participates in Wai Kru Day or Teacher’s Day. Even though the many schools vary when they observe Wai Kru Day, it is always on a Thursday, which is thought to be auspicious by Thai Buddhists.
Wai Kru Day is an occasion for Thai students to show respect for their teacher (Kru) through participation in a formal ceremony. They thank their teachers for the knowledge given them and for the gift of learning, also wishing for good luck during the school year and in throughout their future lives. Western social engineers might learn a cultural lesson from the practice of honoring teachers instead of demonizing them in the blame game of “Civilization and Its Discontents”.
Students come to school in Thailand on Wai Kru Day with flowers and gifts for their teachers. Many dress in traditional Thai costumes. At many Thai schools – especially government schools, where the children are poorer than at private academies – students make their own floral arrangements. They use traditional Thai flowers, plants, banana leaves and incense in the larger arrangements, all of which have different meanings, for example patience, respect and discipline. These are presented to the teachers at an elaborate ceremony, during which students are expected to Wai their teachers (hold their hands in the prayer position) and pay them respect.
Some schools have small ceremonies within each classroom; other schools have enormous school-wide ceremonies, where thousands of kids take part in the same ceremony. Students make floral garlands out of flower buds: small circular floral rings, made to fit around the wrists of teachers.
Wai Kru Day means that teachers dress in their best clothes or their smartest school uniforms. They sit on a stage in front of the whole school, while students parade in front of them. Students prostrate themselves at the teachers’ feet, presenting them with flowers and gifts, while parents look on, many of them weeping from the sheer emotion of the ceremony.
The Wai Kru ceremony is a genuinely moving tribute to Thai teachers. The preponderance of the kids do love their teachers and want to show it. If a teacher is very popular, back in the classroom, he or she will also receive lots more gifts from the kids and their parents – snacks, candy, clothing, books, ornaments, and much more. Teachers in Thailand, not just on Wai Kru Day but on every day, certainly feel appreciated and respected.
Nowhere is culture more definitional in the practice of a martial art than Muay Thai. Western trash talk, so pervasive nowadays in our social media, fails the smell test for cultural authenticity in the practice of Muay Thai. You can respect what someone might be capable of doing in the ring but honor isn’t likely to be earned, where it’s not even on the Western curriculum to learn. The Soul in the Savagery. Muay Thaimes®. Copped in part from Cassandra James on the examiner.com.
We also thank Kru Tony Moore for this montage of the Wai Kru Day at the SitSiam Camp in Manchester, England”.