The survey conducted by Office of Health Promotion Fund in 2014 shows that the 3 most popular activities among students on Valentine’s Day are: travelling abroad (51%), hanging out at entertainment places (31.1%), staying with the boyfriend or girlfriend (11.2%). It has been noted that merit making and food offering to monks accounts for 7% only. The research also indicates that Thai youths activities involve more alcoholic drinking than other days. This may have impact on their driving, or lead to dispute, accident, quarrelling, and sexual harassment. Their behaviors may bring about physical, psychological and asset damage to themselves or others.
Khon Kaen University promotes arts and culture as well as community care following the third strategy: Culture and Care Community. Therefore, Valentine’s Khaw Ji merit making is held, which integrates an Isan culture and a western festival and at the same time reduces risk from sexual harassment that brings detriment effects.
Mr. Bancha Phraphon, Assistant to the President for Arts, Cultures, and Community Relation explained that Valentine’s Khaw Ji merit making has been held continuously for the third time this year. The objectives are to conserve graceful Isan tradition and instill good cultural values among the youths through contemporary-style event and under the concept “not obsessed with the old and not crazy over the new”. The meaning of love is defined more broadly especially the love and unity of local people that makes the join together in activities. The youths will then become aware of the values and hidden meaning of love and then apply two different cultures appropriately with the present time.
“The Arts, Cultures, and Community Relation section of Khon Kaen University has a policy to concretely conserve the local ‘heet sip song’ (12 merit makings). The section designed the event that would enable the new generation to carry on good cultures with people in the communities around the campus. ‘heet sip song’ is enhanced and cooperation between the university and villagers, community leaders and students promoted. This event has been interesting to the people, Isan adolescents and mass media since the first time it was held. Most importantly, this event is held at KKU only.”
Buddhism history relates that ‘khaw ji merit making’ had an origin from Nang Punnathasi’s making khaw ji for Lord Buddha and Phra Anon. However, she thought that both of them would not eat it, for it was not a delicately made dessert. When Lord Buddha learned her thought, he ate the dessert and then preached her until she became enlightened. This belief with khaw ji as the cause led Isan ancestors to practice ‘khaw ji merit making’ every year until now. The merit making demonstrates people’s love towards Buddhism.
The event features ‘khaw ji’ offering to monks, art and cultural performances by the students, open-air movies, students’ hand-made goods booths, and demonstration of khaw ji making by the elderly. Valentine’s Khaw Ji merit making of Khon Kaen University marks the important restoration of Isan culture and integrates two lifestyles together under the concept: “not obsessed with the old and not crazy over the new”. It will prove that in order to conserve root cultures, the old-style practices will not work. There must be some sort of integration so that young people can understand.
Those who are interested are welcome to join the Valentine’s Khaw Ji merit making on February 14, 2018. The morning food offering to monks starts at 7.00 a.m. with participants dressed in Thai traditional sarong skirt. The afternoon session starts at 5.00 p.m. Besides the features listed above, there are also creative Khaw Ji contest where competitors can use the making kits free of charge. Music of various styles will be played and everyone is welcome to join the Bar Slope dance. The event is held at Buddhasilp Building area, Khon Kaen University.
Written by: Jiraporn, Napassorn