|A grandmother ties a thread for her granddaughter. (VOV)
The Thai believe that a person has a soul and a body. The soul is created by the first goddess living in heaven. Parents give birth to a child with a specific body shaped by the second goddess. The soul and the body integrate and exist together for a period of time. If the soul and the body separate, there will be no life. The soul goes back to heaven and the body returns to dust. Thai people have a custom of tying a cotton thread on the wrist to attach the soul with the body for longevity.
Ca Van Chung, a member of the Association of Vietnamese Folklore in Son La city, said: “The Thai believe that a person’s soul has 80 spirits – 30 on the front and 50 on the back. If some spirits leave the body, that person will be sick. If they all leave, the person will die. Thai people tie a string on their wrists to integrate the spirits with the body.”
In the past, Thai people used to organize a ceremony to tie string bracelets for all villagers. The community ceremony is not frequently held now, but people still uphold the custom.
Tong Van Hia, an old man in Mong hamlet, said they tie string bracelets for newborn babies and family members at funerals and ceremonies to call the spirits, to pray for sick people, and to bless elderly people with longevity.
“Tying a string bracelet is to tie spirits of a sick person to protect him or her from evil. When a family member dies, they tie strings for other people to avoid their spirits from following the deceased,” Hia said.
|Thai children wear cotton bracelets. (VOV)
Tying string bracelets can be done without a ceremony. Anyone can tie a string for others even healthy people. Normally grandparents and parents tie bracelets for their children and vice versa to pray for good health, luck, and longevity. The kind of string and prayer are different for each circumstance.
When a shaman performs a full-month celebration for a baby, he plaits red and black threads to make a string to tie around the baby’s wrist or neck and wishes it to grow healthy and fast.
For a weak and sick person, the shaman and relatives organize a ceremony. Each person ties a thread around the person’s wrist as a wish and encouragement.
When a person dies, his relatives and friends come to share their condolences. They pick a thread from their white mourning head-bands to tie around their wrists.
Tong Thi Binh, a shaman of Mong hamlet, said: “We tie strings on the left and right wrists and pray for good health, and wisdom. We tie spirits so they don’t go with devils. If a sick person has many relatives and friends tie strings, he has more energy to get well soon.”
The custom of tying string bracelets has many meanings. Thai people in the northwestern region, from old to young, are very respectful and consider it an indispensable custom in their spiritual life passed down from generation to generation.