I was born in the year of the rabbit and that year comes round every twelve years. For me, it has come round six times so far. Traditionally, the sixth cycle (and the seventh) are celebrated more than an annual birthday here in Thailand. It is considered quite an achievement, I suppose, to see your sixth cycle. I certainly feel a sense of achievement, partly perhaps because I can still remember thinking that 30 years old was OLD AGE, and I could not imagine living that long.
My actual birthday was back in October, but we decided that the best time to celebrate it would be close to Christmas. We ended up with Christmas Eve for several reasons, the main one being that the family was asembling in Bangkok the previous weekend for the wedding of Liew and Ashley. By family 'assembling', I mean that our children Dominic and Darunee, with Jay and Adam and our five grandchildren would all be in Thailand for the wedding and then staying on for some holiday time. Liew and Ashley would be here from England too of course. Our Thai family (Pensri's sisters and their children and grandchildren and her cousins and their children and grandchildren) were also able to come up to Phana, as most of them do each year for a tam boun for the ancestors.
Most people arrived in Phana on the 23rd, Dom and Darunee's lot with us in the house, everyone else booked into Phana Garden Resort. Food was organised, monks invited, a stage put up in the garden, and a marquee, plastic tables and chairs stacked up ready for use. In the morning we were going to feed nine monks (one forgot to come!) and then have a baci su kwan ceremony with one of Pensri's second (?) cousins the spirit-caller. The neice of Mom, the woman who spent several months with us in England in 2011, had offered to dance the benediction dance, and three other young women were going to perform another dance for the baci.
Hundreds of photos were taken, none of them by me on this occasion. It is difficult to make a selection,but here goes.
Presents, this one from my senior brother and sister-in-law:
Most of the guests sit outside on these occasions:
The woman on the right is well past her seventh cycle. She must have attended hundreds of ceremonies like this one. She used to give me massages when I first came to Phana, and I thought she was really old then. Really old, but her thumbs were amazingly strong, and she gave me some of the most effective massage I've had. It was good to see her again because she doesn't get out and about much any more.
And then when the monks were eating, the su kwan ceremony began:
And then the sacred threads were tied around wrists while blessings were muttered. It is usual to wish the receiver good health and a long life but people seemed to enjoy trying to outdo each other by wishing me 100, 300, 600, 1200 years of life! I'm not sure I wish any of those for myself, but who knows.
Then we all had lunch and everyone except the families from Bangkok, Abu Dhabi and England disappeared rapidly, as is the custom. But in the evening we had an entertainment arranged and I'll post some pictures of that very soon.