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Celebrating Teachers With Wai Khru

The Wai Khru ceremony is held at the beginning of each school year in Thailand.

Long time followers will already know that we love teachers here at BKK Kids. We’re especially proud of those we’ve posted about in our regular Bangkok Faces feature. Teachers are an important (dare I say critical?) part of most children’s lives and we’re happy to have a particular moment in Thai culture to honor them.

Wai Khru is a Thai tradition that provides a specific opportunity for students to show appreciation for their teachers. The timing of the ceremony differs from school to school, but is usually held at the beginning of the term in a new academic year. Wai Khru is always held on at Thursday, however, because this is widely recognized as the day of Brihaspati, who is the Vedic god of wisdom and teachers.

The ceremony itself usually consists of the following elements:

  • A prayer in the Buddhist tradition,
  • The “Wai Khru Chant” recited by the student body,
  • A presentation of flowers, candles and other simple items to teachers, by select student representatives, and
  • Remarks by the school principal or headmaster, usually about achieving success in the school year.

As with most-things-Thai, each aspect of Wai Khru holds a deeper meaning. In particular, the flowers given to teachers by their students are specifically chosen to symbolize:

  • The Dok Ma Khue (or eggplant flower) shows respect to the teacher, as the flower bends as if bowing,
  • Ya Praek (or Bermuda grass) is a sign of patience or perseverance because, while the plant looks wilted, it is very much alive,
  • Khao Tok (or popped rice) represents discipline, and
  • Dok Kem (or Ixora) are chosen, because the closed buds are needle-like and represent a hope for sharp wit, or intelligence, in the student.

How will your children help celebrate Wai Khru this year? We’d love to see the many varieties of ceremonies and celebrations across our community. Please take a picture and tag @bkk.kids or use #bkkkidswaikhru in Facebook or Instagram.

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