droomoord: (sak)
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Getting to the temple was simple enough. We took a bus and around a certain corner, the money handler urged us off and onto the other bus pulling up behind. This one was packed beyond brim. Being female got me a seat, while Ed hung out the door until we reached the temple. It was about 8am, and it was clear why we'd wanted to leave earlier. The grounds were filled with a crowd of 5,000+, most of them seated facing the main podium, uncut sheets of that plastic metal for packaged foods between their bodies and the gravel. A line of widely smiling people in red shirts formed a bit of a barricade in front of the platform. Every so often,someone would approach: grunting and rubbing their heads in the dirt; whooping with claws extended, running ballzout through the crowd.



They would scramble toward the podium, and the people in red shirts would catch them, lift their feet off the ground, massage their ears, whispering something into them...



In an instant, they were perfectly human, bowing in gratitude and respect, walking softly back to their seated position in the crowd.
I was immediately struck by the complete lack of cynicism, by the supreme cooperation, compassion and reverence that permeated this huge crowd that just kept growing. It was such an easy crowd, with periodic elements of pure ferocity.




Standing at the head of the crowd, there were farang shoving past me and and everyone else to get right in the face of anyone in trance, swarming with their cameras. Their brazen aggressiveness surprised and embarassed me. I suppose there is a journalistic benefit in disrupting the scene, engaging it directly- but the culturally oblivious predatory manner of it made me uncomfortable. For me, the more subjective road has made all the difference.
We bought a sheet of snack wrap and claimed a spot near the middle.
By this time, a truckload of young men in camoflauge arrived to bolster the red-shirt catcher's line. They were all having the best time.
We would always hear the entranced first- the grunting, shrieking, I can't really think of words for most of the noises, but look for its source- most likely, it's charging soon.



Some pounded, some flew, some slithered their way to the front.



Many cried out for a minute and then fell quiet without crescendo.



After a while, monks took to the stage and began chanting.



The crowd bowed in prayer, the overtaken still rushed to the front. When the call and response started, Ed and I were both visibly startled. The monk would say something in Pali,and the crowd repeated it back. It was ...yes... thunderous. When this bit finished, the crowd stood and shuffled toward the front, where holy water was being dispensed via hoses.



This much was over by 10am.

My current connection isn't fast enough to let me view them, but these are some video bits from Saturday.



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September 2009

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