After eating lunch with Boun Loy Vanh helpers, I went to take some photos and video clips of Grand-Mama and her friends making Pha Khuan. Grand-Mama has decided to have a Baci Ceremony for me after the Morning Alms Giving. I felt quite useless since no one would let me do anything. All my relatives and neighbors were all making a comment about how I probably don’t know how to cook or do anything since I have been living in the USA for some years now. I don’t know if they were just teasing me or really thought that I have such an easy life and don’t even know how to cook sticky rice.
Grand-Mama told me that is okay to just observe and take pictures and make video recordings. That way all my uncles and my Papa in the USA can see what they did for Grand-Papa. My job for the most part was to document the event and show the people who sent the money for Boun Loy Vanh how their dollars were spent. Grand-Mama was not able to pay for Boun Loy Vanh on her own.
I don’t have much understanding about Boun Loy Vanh. My parents didn’t do one for my deceased sister. This is the first Boun Loy Vanh that I have attended. All I know is that after someone passed away a Boun Loy Vanh is to take place on the 100th days (Loy Vanh) to pay respect for passing of that person. As you can see there are many personal items that are offered during a ceremony. This is to help my Grand-Papa in the after life, according to a Buddhist tradition.
While I was busy taking pictures and talking to people next door I was called back for Boun Loy Vanh ceremony. It was quite moving with so many people in the house. I thought I had enough time to take another shower and change into a sinh that Aunt Kian made for me the night before but Grand-Mama said it’s not important that I take shower again. All I needed was ten minutes, five minutes for shower and five for getting dress. All my aunts said it was okay to dress the way I was since my other cousins were in jeans and t-shirts.
I did my best with alternating the camcorder and digital camera while sitting in the middle of the room. There was not much room for me to move around and I had to sit in the traditional position and doing the nop now and then. There was one particular chant during a ceremony that put me in a state of trance. It was something that I have never felt before.
After the ceremony and all the monks left, I ate dinner with Grand-Mama while the others ate in a group. I asked my cousin to record me eating dinner with Grand-Mama in a place of my uncles and my Papa.
When I finished eating I went next door to help with the dishes. I was teased by several people and asked whether or not I know how to do dishes. I told them that I have to cook and clean for myself too in the US. They were surprised to hear that and said they thought I live a life of luxury. Well, little do they know of my daily struggles. I said to them that you have to take care of yourself no matter where you are.