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Friday, April 8, 2016

Colorful Coming-of-Age Ceremony For Young Buddhists

Inside The Colorful
Coming-of-Age Ceremony
For Young Buddhists
Boys between 7 and 14
wear lavish costumes for
Poy Sang Long
Alexandra Ma - 04/07/2016

The boys’ sumptuous dress refers to the Buddha’s own princely origins.

Earlier this week, dozens of boys in Thailand took part in Poy Sang Long, a traditional rite of passage for young Buddhists from the Shan ethnic group.

The annual ceremony, which normally spans three days, marks the initiation of boys, typically 7 to 14 years old, as novices in the Buddhist community. The boys’ participation in this rite helps them and their families accumulate merit, which Buddhists believe moves them along the path to achieving enlightenment.

As part of Poy Sang Long, the boys have their faces decorated and dress up in lavish costumes — a reference to Siddhartha Gautama, who was said to be a prince before embarking on the religious journey that led him to become a Buddha.
Heads shaven and fully adorned, the boys wait for Poy Sang Long to begin.
At the end of the three days, the novices remove their colorful costumes and begin their study of Buddhist doctrine.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Thailand-based photographer Taylor Weidman followed two youngsters, 10-year-old Han and 11-year-old Kemachart, as they prepared for their initiation. According to Getty Images, the boys are neighbors from Chiang Mai who traveled to Mae Sariang, a small town in northern Thailand near the Burmese border, for the ceremony.

Take a look at more of Weidman’s photos of the runup to Poy Sang Long below:

Kemachart along with other novices be a part of a prayer ceremony at a shrine near Wat Supan Rangsri on April 6.

Boys await the ceremony to begin with. 

Photos: Taylor Weidman via Getty Images

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