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In pictures: Thailand's female monks
Thai women have not been ordained as monks for seven centuries - but one woman is trying to revive the tradition.
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2013 15:58
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Nakhon Pathom, Thailand - For more than seven centuries, Buddhist women have not been allowed to become ordained in Thailand. The last bhikkhunis - female Buddhist monks - died in the 13th century, and men took a predominant position in Thailand's Theravada brand of Buddhism.

Chatsumarn Kabilsingh has been trying to revive the bhikkuni tradition. "In Buddhism, men and women are treated equally, but the Thai culture tends to place women lower," said the 68-year-old Chatsumarn, who left her life as a professor at a renowned Thai university in 2000 to enter monastic life. After three years of learning the Buddha's precepts in Taiwan, she was ordained as a full bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka. Her name was changed to the Venerable Dhammananda, and she returned to Thailand to help other women follow the same path.

But Thai Sangha, the religious authority in the country, does not recognise these ordinations, citing a 1928 religious order forbidding monks from ordaining women. According to the Buddha's teachings, a male monk has to be ordained by a quorum of male monks, but women need both male and female monks' quora. This order makes it effectively impossible for women to be ordained in Thailand; they must travel to foreign countries to become monks.

Dhammananda was the first Thai woman in centuries to be ordained as a Theravada Buddhist monk. Despite the official ban, she now runs the Songdhammakalyani Monastery, the first all-female temple in Thailand, located in Nakhon Pathom near Bangkok.

Other women join the ten permanent monks twice a year in temporary ordinations. They spend a few days with Dhammananda learning the precepts of the Buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, it is believed that being ordained at least once in one's lifetime it is the best way to gain karma for themselves or their relatives. "I wanted to be ordained because I want my parents [to] go to heaven," said Paranee, one of the women ordained last April, who works as an assurance agent near Bangkok.

Along with Paranee, 43 other women - most of them from Thailand but also from India and Vietnam - were ordained for nine days and participated in the monastic activities. They shaved their heads and woke up everyday at 5am to meditate. Some days they begged for food in the morning or tidied up the temple's garden.

Today, about 150 bhikkhunis practice in ten temples across Thailand, founded following Dhammananda's example.


Biel Calderon/Transterra Media

Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, 68, is trying to revive the ancient tradition of ordaining women monks. She was ordained a full bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka, becoming the Venerable Dhammananda, and returned to Thailand to help other women follow the same path.



Biel Calderon/Transterra Media
Two bhikkhunis, or female Buddhist monks, at Wat Plak Mai Lai, a forest monastery in Thailand.


Biel Calderon/Transterra Media
Samaneris, or novice nuns, during a community work session at Wat Songkdhammakalayani, the first temple gathering fully ordained nuns in Thailand since 1960. All nuns are placed at the same level, regardless of their prior education or training.


Biel Calderon/Transterra Media
A novice nun begging for food near Wat Songkdhammakalayani.


Biel Calderon/Transterra Media
People from communities around the monastery feed the monks.


Biel Calderon/Transterra Media
New Samaneris (Buddhist novice nuns) during the Almsround (a food-giving ceremony that symbolizes humbleness) near Wat Songdhammakalyani, the first temple gathering fully ordained nuns in Thailand since 1960. People from communities around the monastery feed the Bhikkhunis (female buddhist monks).


Biel Calderon/Transterra Media
Novice nuns learn head massage techniques during their ordination training.


Biel Calderon/Transterra Media

 Thai Sangha, the religious authority in Thailand, does not recognise ordinations of women.




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images:
/mritems/images/2013/6/2/20136210285591585_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2013/6/2/201362102854185857_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2013/6/2/201362102854388504_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2013/6/2/201362102854591432_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2013/6/2/201362102854810922_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2013/6/2/201362102854935481_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2013/6/2/201362102855263837_8.jpg;*;/mritems/images/2013/6/2/201362102855451802_8.jpg
captions:

Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, 68, is trying to revive the ancient tradition of ordaining women monks. She was ordained a full bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka, becoming the Venerable Dhammananda, and returned to Thailand to help other women follow the same path.

;*;Two bhikkhunis, or female Buddhist monks, at Wat Plak Mai Lai, a forest monastery in Thailand.;*;Samaneris, or novice nuns, during a community work session at Wat Songkdhammakalayani, the first temple gathering fully ordained nuns in Thailand since 1960. All nuns are placed at the same level, regardless of their prior education or training.;*;A novice nun begging for food near Wat Songkdhammakalayani.;*;People from communities around the monastery feed the monks.;*;New Samaneris (Buddhist novice nuns) during the Almsround (a food-giving ceremony that symbolizes humbleness) near Wat Songdhammakalyani, the first temple gathering fully ordained nuns in Thailand since 1960. People from communities around the monastery feed the Bhikkhunis (female buddhist monks).;*;Novice nuns learn head massage techniques during their ordination training.;*;

 Thai Sangha, the religious authority in Thailand, does not recognise ordinations of women.

Daylife ID:
1369572965669
Photographer:
Biel Calderon;*;Biel Calderon;*;Biel Calderon;*;Biel Calderon;*;Biel Calderon;*;Biel Calderon;*;Biel Calderon;*;Biel Calderon
Image Source:
Transterra Media;*;Transterra Media;*;Transterra Media;*;Transterra Media;*;Transterra Media;*;Transterra Media;*;Transterra Media;*;Transterra Media
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Thailand female monkshttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monksen-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Sun, 26 May 2013 12:56:06 GMTSun, 02 Jun 2013 10:20:21 GMT http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=0gw56UC91L6J5

Two bhikkhunis, or female Buddhist monks, at Wat Plak Mai Lai, a forest monastery in Thailand.

Sun, 26 May 2013 12:38:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=0gw56UC91L6J5Biel CalderonTransterra MediaAl Jazeera Upload Images

Two bhikkhunis, or female Buddhist monks, at Wat Plak Mai Lai, a forest monastery in Thailand.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=08AW6QtfzqdwM

Samaneris, or novice nuns, during a community work session at Wat Songkdhammakalayani, the first temple gathering fully ordained nuns in Thailand since 1960. All nuns are placed at the same level, regardless of their prior education or training.

Sun, 26 May 2013 12:43:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=08AW6QtfzqdwMBiel CalderonTransterra MediaAl Jazeera Upload Images

Samaneris, or novice nuns, during a community work session at Wat Songkdhammakalayani, the first temple gathering fully ordained nuns in Thailand since 1960. All nuns are placed at the same level, regardless of their prior education or training.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=0aAC4Hdd0Z1Yj

A novice nun begging for food near Wat Songkdhammakalayani.

Sun, 26 May 2013 12:45:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=0aAC4Hdd0Z1YjBiel CalderonTransterra MediaAl Jazeera Upload Images

A novice nun begging for food near Wat Songkdhammakalayani.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=01Fv7BE8FYdt6

People from communities around the monastery feed the monks.

Sun, 26 May 2013 12:47:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=01Fv7BE8FYdt6Biel CalderonTransterra MediaAl Jazeera Upload Images

People from communities around the monastery feed the monks.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=064sdNh0umdrr

New Samaneris (Buddhist novice nuns) during the Almsround (a food-giving ceremony that symbolizes humbleness) near Wat Songdhammakalyani, the first temple gathering fully ordained nuns in Thailand since 1960. People from communities around the monastery feed the Bhikkhunis (female buddhist monks).

Sun, 26 May 2013 12:48:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=064sdNh0umdrrBiel CalderonTransterra MediaAl Jazeera Upload Images

New Samaneris (Buddhist novice nuns) during the Almsround (a food-giving ceremony that symbolizes humbleness) near Wat Songdhammakalyani, the first temple gathering fully ordained nuns in Thailand since 1960. People from communities around the monastery feed the Bhikkhunis (female buddhist monks).

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=06dddUc9Zm1aG

Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, 68, is attempting to revive the ancient tradition of ordaining women monks. She was ordained a full bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka, becoming the Venerable Dhammananda, and returned to Thailand to help other women follow the same path.

Sun, 26 May 2013 12:50:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=06dddUc9Zm1aGBiel CalderonTransterra MediaAl Jazeera Upload Images

Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, 68, is attempting to revive the ancient tradition of ordaining women monks. She was ordained a full bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka, becoming the Venerable Dhammananda, and returned to Thailand to help other women follow the same path.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=09d914k46z6UN

Novice nuns learn head massage techniques during their ordination training.

Sun, 26 May 2013 12:41:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=09d914k46z6UNBiel CalderonTransterra MediaAl Jazeera Upload Images

Novice nuns learn head massage techniques during their ordination training.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=09O6fVicjJaYr

 Thai Sangha, the religious authority in Thailand, does not recognize women ordinations.

Sun, 26 May 2013 13:02:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Thailand-female-monks?image_id=09O6fVicjJaYrBiel CalderonTransterra MediaAl Jazeera Upload Images

 Thai Sangha, the religious authority in Thailand, does not recognize women ordinations.



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