On the night of July 2nd we went to a thai funeral. It was an experience unlike anything we have done before.

This funeral was set up so that in the room people could either sit down or sit in a chair. Outside of the room there were many chairs lined up. Many people chose to sit in the chairs outside of the room. Many of us questioned why. We were told it was for many reasons, but one of them is because those people were being greng jai. They were sitting outside so that there would be room for others to sit in the room. In a way it is about putting yourself in a somewhat uncomfurtable position so that others will be more comfurtable. You do something nice for someone but you do not ask them first if they want you to do this. This is something we have witnessed many thais doing. It is a concept we do not often see in America.

We walked into the room to sit on the floor and we were immediately accepted. We were smiled at, and people moved to make room for us. We sat down in front of the monks who were singing. Although we didnt understand exactly what was going on we tried to present ourselves well. We sat mermaid style. This is because the soles of our feet are the lowest part of our body so they shouldnt be pointing out at anyone. Once the monks stopped singing, the atmosphere changed but it was not the atmosphere of an american funeral. People went around passing out food. People even took pictures of us. At first i felt awkward i was about to smile, but then realised i was at a funeral. After this first picture was taken i asked what was appropriate to do in that situation. I was told it was completely normal to smile. Smiling for a picture at a funeral is somethign I never thought I would do.

This was my and others first time at a funeral. From what I’ve heard about funerals I was expecting people to be crying, but this thai funeral was the opposite.