A splendid heritage in Traditional Thai Medicine


A splendid heritage in Traditional Thai Medicine

Massage Around the World was invited to a traditional Thai ceremony at the prestigious Mahidol University in Bangkok, in which the students celebrate their teachers. “The ceremony is perfectly integrated with the characteristics of Thais, who are humble and grateful and have very delicate hearts. In Thai society, those who are grateful to others who have benefitted them are considered to have good hearts and are usually praised” – Center of Applied Thai Traditional Medicine, Mahidol University.


A ritual in Traditional Thai Medicine and massage

In Thailand they recognise the importance of the teacher during an annual ritual, especially in the fields of Traditional Thai Medicine, Thai massage, Thai classical music, Thai dance and other traditional arts. The conviction behind this custom is that the learning process is greatly influenced by the experience and expertise of the teacher, as well as by the relationship between the master and the disciple / student and teacher. It is believed that the student´s deep respect for his/her teacher as well as a good connection between teacher and student, fosters a productive learning process, while a student who does not show gratitude nor respect for his/her teacher will rarely profit from the teachings.


Flamboyant Ceremony at the Mahidol University

We were delighted to be invited to this sacred ceremony (Wai Khru ceremony) by Mr. Tawee Laohapand, the Chairman of the Center of Applied Thai Traditional Medicine. In Thai massage and medicine the ceremony is traditionally held annually in late August on a Thursday, as was the case this year as well.

We marvelled at the beautiful setting of the celebration hall with its altar and offerings; instruments used in Traditional Thai Medicine, candles, flowers, oils, foods, etc. One side of the altar is dedicated to Lord Buddha while the other side is dedicated to Master Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha (the Father of Traditional Thai Medicine).

During the first part of the ceremony, a group of Buddhist monks chant together with the participants. Here we can truly appreciate the great influence of Buddhism in the Thai traditions and rites. The second part of the ceremony is dedicated to paying homage to the teachers. Students pay respect to their teachers, face-to-face, by giving them presents and thanking them for sharing their valuable knowledge. This is the formalization of a solid teacher-student relationship that will generate a fruitful learning experience.

Throughout the ceremony you can sense the deep respect that the students have for their teachers. It is beautiful to see such a tangible recognition for a profession that unfortunately in many other parts of the world is everything but appreciated. Being a teacher myself I feel that the connection between teacher and student that these type of traditions can generate can be highly valuable if it is cherished through time of course.


Traditional Thai Medicine today

After the ceremony we are shown around the facilities of the Center of Applied Traditional Thai Medicine, which are impressive! The Chairman proudly tells us that this is one of the few universities where you can study Traditional Thai Medicine in Thailand, and that they are steadily increasing their number of enrollments.

The standardization of Traditional Thai Medicine studies is still under development on a national level and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. It is however great to see that there is a lot of people willing to bet for this ancient medicine and make it a viable option for young students in today´s Thailand.

Wishing you a beautiful day ahead,

César Tejedor

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  • Assunta Hunter15/12/2014 at 03:35Reply

    While Mr. Tawee Laohapand, the Chairman of the Center of Applied Thai Traditional Medicine suggests that there are few universities offering courses in Thai Traditional Medicine, there were in 2012 some 21 universities offering such courses. This is actually a large number of tertiary institutions offering training in this area and the number is all the more surprising when you realize that the first university course teaching Thai Traditional Medicine opened its doors to students in 2002. Officials from the MOPH in Thailand suggested that there would be roughly 1000 Thai Traditional Medicine students graduating each year from 2011 onwards (personal communication). These students are being integrated into the Thai medical system to provide traditional medicine services which are covered by the Thai universal health insurance system.
    See a listing of universities offering Thai Traditional medicine courses at Globinmed.com: http://www.globinmed.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&catid=115:country-scenario&id=141:thailands-tmcam-system&Itemid=185

    • Camilla Ilves16/12/2014 at 10:01Reply

      Dear Assunta,
      Thank you for your comment! Just as you say, there are also other universities offering courses and degrees in Thai Traditional Medicine, and both Mr. Laohapand and ourselves are happy to see a growing interest in this wonderful subject and a rising number of students. Let´s hope that this trend continues and that we can see a larger number of Thai Traditional Medicine practitioners in Thailand and abroad in a near future!

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