Monks & Morning Song

I often compare consumer habits in South Africa to those in Asia, simply because there are so many similarities and so many differences. In advertising we often look at the average day in our consumers lives in order to see where the potential ‘touch points’ would be to communicate with them. For example what time they wake up, what TV station they watch, how they get to work, where they eat lunch, what websites they surf, what time they get home etc

I was reading one the other day and it is so cool to see that nearly all income levels of Thai people give alms to monks every single morning between 5am and 6:30am. This is basically an ‘offering’ to Buddha in an attempt to get closer to a better after life and end the cycle of rebirth. Rice is generally the most common offering I have witnessed. You see the monks with little wooden bowls and baskets with handles receiving white rice and other food from people in their doorways or next to the road. Often people will kneel down on the ground, their hands pressed together on their foreheads, deep in prayer at the feet of the monk. Others stand with burning incense between their hands, eyes closed and whispering to Buddha while the monk, draped in Orange, gives them his blessing.

When I was at Unilever head office on Monday morning I was startled to see that the entire lobby of this 27 story building covered in people kneeling and praying while a group of about twelve monks sang and walked between them flicking blessed water as they went. The monks were chanting as they went. What felt odd was that other people who needed to get to the elevator (like me) would just walk straight through the middle of this gathering with no real consideration. Not in a rude way, just in a practical way. So in the middle of this beautiful singing you would hear the clip clop of high heels, the ringing of Blackberry phones and the chatter of business people sipping Starbucks and lugging laptops. (I did lurk around the corner for a while before crossing through to ensure I wasn’t insulting anyone)

Then a little bell rang and everyone suddenly stood up, started chatting and putting their shoes back on and off to work they went!

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