String Bracelets are common to Thailand often known to travellers and tourists from monk blessings during temple ceremonies. But what exactly are these string bracelets? The real name in Thai is ‘Sai Sin’ Bracelet. A shortened length of Sacred Thread which has been blessed by monks for luck and fortune. Not wholly unique to Thailand you will find similar rituals and string bracelets throughout Southeast Asia in both Buddhism and Hinduism. Below are images of String Bracelets being prepared by a monk in Bangkok, Thailand, being presented by a monk in Vientiane, Laos (Baci) and being offered by local elders in rural Thailand. For luck in travels, for luck in endeavors and for luck in old age (respectively).
Blessing the Thread
Below shows a Blessing Ceremony in rural Thailand where a length of cotton thread is Blessed by Monks. The string held between nine monks, members of the congregation and intertwine with candles, a Buddhist altar and a golden bowl with water. The blessing ceremony lasts roughly 30 minutes with Buddhist prayers, Sanskrit chants and drips of candle wax to the now Holy Water. The ceremony takes place in a family home. The monks present elders of the house with Sai Sin bracelets and splash with holy water. The full length of Sacred Thread and Bowl of Holy Water are then left with the family to use as they please.
The Sai Sin Ceremony
On this occasion they use the Sacred Thread and Holy Water in a ceremony welcoming me to their family. Cuts of sacred thread tied to my wrist by senior family members, 8 in total, as they each take turn to present Sai Sin bracelets. During the ceremony I sit cross legged hands tight positioned with a ‘Wai’ prayer in front of me. As each family member present their Sai Sin Bracelet the thread is rubbed up the arm while citing good luck and fortune sentiment in Thai. “Good luck, successful future, eat your greens”. The same goes the opposite way down the arm “Go away bad feelings and losses, you’re getting fat”. These words unique to me. The bracelet, my head and body are then splashed with Holy Water using leaves of a leafy branch. I thank each family member with a Wai.
Money and Wealth
With some Sai Sin bracelets money notes (100 Bahts) are placed beneath. The money symbolises future wealth and prosperity. A more prominent orange Sai Sin bracelet presented by the head of the family. Next is Fanfan’s turn who receives even more lavish offerings. Her dad surprised and ill prepared by the ceremony only finds 1000 Baht notes in his wallet. Her mum well prepared presents an impressive gold bracelet.
Two weeks later I still have my threads. Hardly a fashion accessory but I have no urge to remove them. When it comes to removing the threads; cut them and discard them or hold onto them for luck. I plan to keep the orange Sai Sin bracelet and have kept the money notes in my wallet for good luck.