Wai Khru is a Ceremony to Pay Respects to Thai Teachers


Every year a Wai Khru ceremony is held where the students pay respect to their teachers. They are doing this partly to thank their teachers for teaching them well in the past, but also in order to gain merit and good fortune for the future. The date will vary from school to school though Wai Khru is usually held towards the beginning of the new academic year. One thing that always remains the same between the schools is that it takes place on a Thursday. This is considered an auspicious day for such a ceremony.

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Every student comes to school with a bunch of flowers for their teachers. The flowers used in the arrangement are symbolic. Dok Ma Khue (eggplant flower) stands for respect because when the tree is blooming its branches bend down in the same way a student pays respect to their teacher. Ya Praek (Bermuda grass) stands for patience or perseverance because although the grass looks wilted it is still very much alive. Khao Tok (popped rice) stands for discipline because the rice is placed in a pan together and heated up to become popped rice. The Dok Kem has the same name as the Thai word for needle. So it means the student will be sharp-witted and brainy.


The whole school takes part in Wai Khru. Among the flowers can be seen three incense sticks and a candle. Together with the flowers, they represent the Triple Gem (or ratanatri). That is the Buddha, his Teaching and the Sangha (the monks). The ceremony starts with the school director lighting candles and incense sticks and paying homage to the Buddha image. Prayers are then read by teachers and senior students. Then everyone takes a vow to be loyal to their nation, religion and King, to be good pupils, to behave themselves, and to obey the school rules. Once the prayers and students vows have been spoken, the school director gives a short speech to the students about the symbolic purpose of this ceremony. The students then come forward in rows to present their flowers to the teachers.


3 thoughts on “Wai Khru is a Ceremony to Pay Respects to Thai Teachers

  • July 26, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Thanks for sharing this. To share more, it is not just to pay respect to teachers, but to express appreciation to teachers, due to Thai tradition and culture. Thai people in the past were not close to teachers and some of them learnt with monks. Communication among teachers and students in that time was limited in classrooms only. Saying thanking in daily life was rarely expressed in Thai culture; the ceremony has been provided to let students express appreciation to their teachers and it’s been this way for a long time. To us, it is very important to do this, because it is the only one time in a year we can tell teachers how much they are thankful.

  • June 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    What a pity these lovely kids have to grow up.

  • June 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Imagine that happening in the UK!


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