One couples journey to receive sak yant in Chiang mai
On a slightly drizzly Sunday afternoon during the Chiang Mai rainy season Mary and Steve awaited their pick up by the Lanna Sakyant team. Slightly nervous about this new experience but excited at the same time, their nerves were calmed by their friends who were joining them for this journey – Rosalind and Alan from Frequent Traveller.
The rain cleared during the scenic drive to the nearby province of Lamphun allowing the beauty of the countryside to shine. Due to an unforeseen road closure the guests were treated to a slightly longer drive along the banks of the Mae Ping Noi river and getting a look into Thai village life rarely seen by those who visit the country on holiday.
Upon arriving at the destination the Thai heat was building up (for those who have not visited before, expect average rainy season temperatures to be around 77°F/25°C in the afternoon) and the shade of the temple was welcomed along with some cold drinks.
The Sak Yant master monk was awaiting the Sak Yant tattoo receivers arrival and had an apprentice with him who had been practising his Yant artwork and spells. Steve, Mary, Rosalind and Alan greeted the monk with a polite ‘Wai’ (a slight bow used as a sign of respect in Thailand) and the decision making process began with Lanna Sakyant guide Mo providing translation between the two parties. Rosalind and Alan began snapping pictures of the temple grounds for their travel blog, the location is ideal for those who love taking a great photo or two.
After going through the masters Sak Yant tattoo catalog of hand drawn images and finding out the meaning of the various types of Yants it was time for business. Steve had decided on the intricate design of the ‘Paed Tidt’ (8 Directions) Yant. This symbolises the 8 points of the compass and draws in luck and good fortune from all directions while also protecting the barer from evil and harm.
The ceremony then began, with Steve giving the master his ‘Suay’ (offering of incense, flowers, and candles wrapped in a banana leaf). Sitting in the Sak Yant masters spiritual room with his back exposed, Steve was not sure what to expect but soon felt the tapping of the Khem Sak (bronze rod with single use tattoo needles attached) on his skin.
The process only took 30-40 minutes and Steve was surprised by the speed of the masters work. He felt a slight stinging when near the back bone but the experience was far more painless than modern tattooing with an electric gun.
Mary was next up. She had taken a liking to the design of the beautiful Dork Bua Yant – The Lotus Flower which increases ones charisma and draws others to you, forming friendship and peace. The apprentice had taken notice of what Mary had been looking at and took it upon himself to draw a new design just for her on the spot. Mary was very humbled by the young man’s efforts and the special Yant he had made, accepting it as the Sak Yant tattoo she wished to receive.
The master began by sketching the Yant on Mary’s back before starting with the Khem Sak. As Buddhist monks in Thailand are encouraged not to have physical contact with females, he wore latex gloves throughout the procedure and took care to obey the protocols of his beliefs. This was truly an honor for Mary as many ordained monks refuse to perform Sak Yant tattoo’s on females, adhering to strictly traditional principals. The Lanna Sakyant master believes everyone is entitled to receive the beauty and blessings of Sak Yant tattoo, so long as they respect the philosophies of Buddha, truly desiring to lead a moral and honest life.
Lanna Sakyant’s guide Mo talked Mary through the Sak Yant as it went along, taking her mind off any discomfort she may have felt though the 25 minute tattoo. Before she knew it, she was the owner of a truly original Yant Dork Bua – and a style of it only found in the Lanna (Northern Thailand) region.
Upon completion of the tattoo the master performed his rite to push the magical blessings into the Sak Yant tattoo. Mary then made her donation (Buddhist monks are forbidden from taking money for financial gain, all donations go towards the upkeep of the temple, housing and education of the monks) and thanked the master.
The weather had well and truly cleared up by now and it was time for the trip home. Mary and Steve were both glowing from their experience and could not believe how painless the process was. No stinging afterwards, just a slight warmth where the Khem Sak had been used.
After a short stop at some interesting photo spots along the way, Mary, Steve, Rosalind & Alan were back home reflecting on their experience. It was Lanna Sakyant’s pleasure to host everyone for the trip, thanks for making it a great one guys!
For more great travel information check out Rosalind & Alan’s site: Frequent Traveller
Also read their experience of the day with Lanna Sakyant here: Sak Yant Chiang Mai – Traditional Buddhist Tattoo