High school students from Bodindecha (Sing Singhaseni) School are challenging the act of prostration and are demanding an end its practice, student leaders told Thai Enquirer.
The once abolished tradition of prostration under the reign of King Chulalongkorn in 1873 has made its way back into Thai schools where students are told to prostrate in front of their teachers. Student leaders at the school and around the nation say that such practices must be challenged and stopped.
The demand to end the practice took off on July 2 when a Twitter page called “ลูกบดินทรไม่อินเผด็ดการ” (Bodin against dictatorship), started tweeting the hashtag #ยกเลิกหมอบกาบ or End Prostration alongside an online petition to end the practice and a formal letter to the school’s administration to change prostration protocols to just a wai.
According to Twitter posts, students have to prostrate to teachers every morning after the national anthem and are allowed to lift their heads up when the teachers say so.
“I feel that it is a bit too much when they asked us to [prostrate]” said Pornapasorn Nguansiri, an alumnus from the school. “It is also very dirty where we [prostrated] because it is in front of the flag where everyone steps around there,” she continued.
“I believe that they should end the practice,” said Nattapatr Poolsawat, another alumnus. “I remember the teachers were very emphasizing on the word ‘Krab’ (กราบ) when we prostrate and we have to say ‘krab khob pra khun krub/kha’ (กราบขอบพระคุณคะ/ครับ). And we can only lift our heads up when the teachers accepted our greetings,” she continued.
Both of the alumni questioned whether the teachers were telling students to prostrate out of tradition or for gratification.
“The reintroduction of prostration into schools is something that is still very recent,” said Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a prominent student activist.
“I am happy to see that a lot of young people are questioning prostration. People are asking for questions and I see this as a sign that there might be more resentment brewing and will extend into other issues as well because it has to do with human dignity,” he said.
The act of prostration was abolished during the reign of King Chulalongkorn who sought to civilize the country and counter western imperialism.