Poy Sang Long

When the Shan people fled Myanmar’s civil war to seek refuge in neighboring Thailand—itself already home to a large Shan community—they brought with them their Buddhist faith and their unique traditions, including the ceremony known as Poy Sang Long. One of the largest and most important Buddhist ceremonies in Shan culture, Poy Sang Long is a rite of passage for Shan boys, who as early as age seven are ordained as novice monks and introduced to the study of Buddhism. We visited Mae Hong Son province, the northern Thai province that’s home to one of the largest populations of Shan people, to learn more.


当掸族人为了逃离缅甸内战,逃到原本就有许多掸族人口定居的邻国—泰国时,他们也将佛教信仰和独特的传统文化带往当地,其中包含名为 “波伊桑隆” 的仪式。波伊桑隆节是掸族文化里,规模最大、最重要的佛教庆典,也是掸族男孩的成年礼仪式。掸族男孩最早会在七岁时就出家成为沙弥,学习佛教教义。为了深入了解,我们拜访了位于泰国北方的湄宏顺省,这里是掸族人口最多的省份之一。


Preparing for the Journey

 

One day before the ceremony begins, the boys have their heads shaved in turn by their parents, their relatives, and Buddhist monks. They are then bathed in water, and yellow thanaka powder is applied to their heads and bodies.


为旅程做准备

 

波伊桑隆仪式前一天,男孩的父母、亲戚和佛教僧侣会将男孩的头发剃掉。接着他们泡在水里,头和身体会涂上黄色的 thanaka 粉(一种草药粉)。


A New Life Begins

 

On the first official day of the ceremony, the boys don a traditional costume and have their faces painted with a heavy makeup. These lavish adornments are intended to make each boy look like a prince, like Buddha before he began his ascetic life. Once ordained, the boys, or sang long, are considered sacred, and their feet may not touch the ground, and they are carried by a servant, or ta pae sang long, anywhere they need to go. Riding atop the servants’ shoulders, the boys visit important community figures and nearby elderly relatives to ask forgiveness for their sins.


开始一段新生命

 

仪式开始第一天,男孩们会穿上传统服装,脸上画浓妆。他们身上穿的华丽服饰是为了要让每个男孩看起来像王子一样,如同踏上苦修道路之前的佛陀。这些男孩,也可称为 “桑隆”(sang long),一旦出家就会被视为神圣的,因此双脚不能触地,仆人(ta pae)会背他们到要去的任何地方。这些男孩跨坐在仆人的肩上,拜访社区里重要人物和附近的年长亲戚,请求他们宽恕自己的罪恶。


The Celebration Parade

 

The sang long parade occurs all around the town to celebrate this rite of passage. It’s a loud and joyous affair that lasts throughout the day. Following the parade, the boys are blessed in a ceremony called the hong kwan. They then eat a special meal of 12 dishes that have been prepared by their parents. This is the final night of their sacred status.


庆祝游行

 

“桑隆” 会在城里各处游行,庆祝这场成年礼仪式。游行会喧嚣欢腾一整天,男孩们跟着游行队伍,在 hong kwan 仪式里接受祝福。接着他们会吃由父母准备的十二道菜肴。此时是他们神圣身份的最后一晚。


The Transition

 

On the last day of the festival, the sang long intone a special psalm to accept their new status as novice monks. Next they shed their colorful garb in exchange for a humble monk’s robe. This is when they officially join the temple, leaving behind the status of sang long as they dedicate themselves to studying Buddhist teachings. With the conclusion of the ceremony, most of the boys will stay at the monastery for a minimum of a week, but some may stay longer, even upwards of several years.


转变时刻

 

庆典最后一天,“桑隆” 会吟咏一种特殊的经文,代表自己接受了沙弥的新身份。隔天,他们会退去五颜六色的服装,换成朴素的僧侣袍。此时他们正式成为沙弥,丧失 “桑隆” 身份。接下来的几周或几个月,他们将在寺庙里研读佛教教义。庆典结束,大多数男孩则会至少在寺庙里待上一周,而有些则更长,甚至会待上几年。

Contributor & Photographer: Will Wiangchai


供稿人与摄影师: Will Wiangchai