Wai :Thai Simple Gesture that is Not Simplistic

In my previous post, I know it does not make sense that the content was shifted abruptly from the appreciation of Pennsylvania weather to the precious culture of Thailand. Actually, I first intended to grumble over the extremely hot weather in Thailand and the lack of various seasons there. Having said that, I later realized that I was going to enumerate displeasing things about my country again. The end of the semester is approaching.  I, therefore, decided that I would use that post and the rest of my blog to tell you more about our precious and unique traditions, in hope that this blog of mine would leave you with some good impression about Thai people and our cultural heritages.

Our most common and meaningful practice is called “Wai”. Not only is Wai a way of greeting, this gesture is also a genuine sign of respect, thankfulness, and apology. Wai is traditionally and routinely performed by bowing slightly with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion. The higher the hands are held in relation to the face and the lower the bow, the more reverence the giver of the wai is showing.  Since Thai people place high value on seniority, children are inculcated that this sign of respect is performed to the elders every time no matter who they are. Although not seemingly beneficial, wai grounds for the sense of gratitude and humility in the youngsters, which will ingrain in these minors throughout their lifetime. This gesture can sometimes explain a million words. In order to say “Thank you” or “I am sorry”, people show this simple, but not simplistic, sign to emphasize their intention and determination. For Thai people, just seeing this practice done with true intention is so overwhelming that all frustrations towards this person suddenly disappear. This Thai way of greeting is, therefore, not only the sign of respect, thankfulness and apology, but it is also a consoler, conflict reliever and harmony creator of Thai people.

"Sawasdee" = "Hello"

“Sawasdee” = “Hello”

This entry was posted in The Open Window.... Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wai :Thai Simple Gesture that is Not Simplistic

  1. Kenny Laufer says:

    This is really fascinating Proud. I have see people use this tradition before, but I never really knew what it meant. I thank you for the enlightenment. It’s crazy how a small act can have a huge impact on others.

  2. Nicole Franks says:

    This is my first time visiting your site, but I wish I had sooner. This is really fascinating and very enjoyable to hear more about your culture. There’s only so much research you can do on your own about a place, but you learn so much more and with deeper meaning, when you hear it first hand from someone who is an expert. I think you definitely made the right switch over to this idea instead.

Leave a Reply