Please Give Up Your Seat

Please Give Up Your Seat

We’re all familiar with the signs on public transport – not just the likes of ‘no smoking’ or ‘please move down inside the carriage’ but specifically the ones which ask you to give up your seat to someone who needs it more. Typically, the pictograms suggest this includes old people, small children and pregnant ladies.

In Thailand, however, this also includes monks, and I just love the little signs which point this out. Of course the Thai people are probably the most overtly religious in SE Asia, with virtually every male citizen from the King downwards spending some time – usually about 3 months – as a monk.

They go through the traditional ceremonies in which their hair and eyebrows are shaved before they are ordained, then they wear the saffron robes and follow the strict monastic lifestyle. It is considered a vital learning experience for a young man.

No big occasion, from a wedding to the opening of an office or moving into a new house is complete without monks to bless the participants, and great merit is to be had on a daily basis by donating money or the special gift packages for monks which usually take up an aisle of their own in supermarkets.

So here are a couple of those signs from bus and train in Bangkok… giving up your seat is probably another good way to earn merit, too.