Ever heard of Wai Kru Day? Just as we have Teacher Appreciation week in America, Thailand celebrates a similar occasion.
What is Wai Kru Day?
Wai Kru Day (Teachers’ Day) rolls around every June (early in the school year). Students participate in school-wide ceremonies to honor their teachers. Before reading on, check out my previous post on the importance of a proper wai in Thailand. Knowing this gesture will have this celebration make SO much more sense!
Wai – Greeting in Thailand (the type of wai correlates to social status and respect)
Kru – teacher
Thailand holds teachers to a high standard, making them well-respected figures in society. After all, they play a significant role in shaping students throughout their school years. This holiday primarily demonstrates the respect students have towards their teachers and celebrates the upcoming year of learning!
Here’s what the ceremony looks like!
At the beginning of the school day, students enter campus with flowers to offer during the ceremony. Many also bring additional flowers and gifts to personally hand out to their teachers in the morning.
A schoolwide ceremony is held later in the day for the school’s administration. Staff members sit on stage according to hierarchy, with the director (principal) seated in the middle. Two students (one boy and one girl) are chosen from each class in the prathom (grade level) to present a floral arrangement. After everyone presents, students rise to sing a song.
Each flower within the arrangement represents characteristics students strive to embody while learning. These are the most common ones:
- Ixora flowers: sharp mindedness and intelligence
- Cynodon Dactylon (Bermuda grass): resilience, determination and perseverance
- Popped rice: discipline
- Eggplant flowers: respect and humility
Then we had ESM’s ceremony
Similar to the schoolwide ceremony, my school’s English program had one of its own! Only this time, everyone presented flowers.
Teachers (myself included) sat at the front of the meeting room while students were arranged by prathom (grade level). They began with the singing of the Wai Kru Song and then row by row were called up to offer flowers. The presenting students kneeled their way towards us (demonstrating respect towards teachers’ status over them) and offered their flowers while holding the highest wai.
Upon presenting, students offer the highest wai – a complete bow to the ground with their palms pressed in a prayer position at the forehead. This type of wai is reserved for monks and the royal family but is also used on Wai Kru Day to illustrate utmost honor towards teachers. As floral arrangements are presented, the rest of the students rise to sing the Wai Kru Song with their hands forming a wai at their chest.
The level of respect Thais have for teachers is SO admirable. Teachers enable each of us to pursue our passions and strive beyond our potential. Without their endless encouragement, support, and care, none of us would be where we are today.
Reflect on your journey – how have your teachers influenced the person you are today? And how can you embody and share this level of respect with your teachers?
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Students presenting flowers at a Wai Kru Ceremony
Weller, A. (2018, June 10). Wai Kru Day. Retrieved May 7, 2020, from http://www.addieweller.com/wai-kru-day