Tham Khwan Khwai Ritual Text

Tham Khwan Khwai Ritual Text
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kk001 Tham Khwan Khwai ritual text - the text for comforting the buffalo - is sung to show appreciation of the buffaloes’ help in the rice field and to ask for the buffaloes’ forgiveness for the farmers’ harsh treatment during work. In the northern region of Thailand, the rite is called “Hong Khwan Khwai”, “Riak Khwan Khwai” or “Ao Khwan Khwai”; in the northeastern region, “Su Khwan Khwai”. The Thai of Cambodian origin in Surin province call the rite “Hao Plueng Krabai”.

The rite of comforting the buffalo is held after having finished rice planting to express gratitude to the buffalo’s help. The owner will offer a Bai Si Su Khwan rite which is a kind of welcoming rite providing food and fresh new grass to the buffalo . After bathing the buffalo, the owner then presents the buffalo with the flowers, incense sticks and candles to ask for forgiveness.

The text of Bot Tham Kwan Kwai reflects the attitude and character of the Thai people as follows:

1) Gratitude -Thai people consider the buffalo a large animal and feel grateful to the buffalo for helping them in the rice field;

2) Kindness - The text reflects the kindness of the Thai people towards the buffalo as mentioning in the text that the buffaloes are rewarded with fresh young grass.

3) Contrition - The text shows Thai farmers’ contrition for treating the buffalo harshly. It says that, while the farmers are plowing the paddy fields, the buffaloes sometimes walk too slowly and stray off to graze. The farmers punish them by lashing at them with rope and jabbing them with a Pa-tak (a goading stick). The buffaloes suffer but they could not complain so they have to endure the pain. The farmers feel guilty for their harsh treatment to the buffalo and therefore arrange Pithi Bai Si Su Khwan, a rite to ask for forgiveness from the buffalo. The rite is, therefore, testimony to the Thai farmers’ compassion for suffering of the beasts.

The rite for comforting the buffalo reflects the relationship between man and animals, which is filled with kindness and gratefulness. A tradition worth preserving for the future generations, the rite reveals the Thai ancestral wisdom and spirit. Rice farming method has changed and buffaloes no longer play a vital role since new technology has introduced other alternatives to the use of buffaloes. Consequently, the text for comforting the buffalo is facing a serious threat of being lost and forgotten.


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