12 August is a public holiday in Thailand in conjunction with the birthday of the Queen Mother, Queen Sirikit, considered to the Mother of all Thai people. Hence Thai people considered 12 August to be Mother’s Day instead of a Sunday in May.
One aspect I have always admired about the Thai people is their filial piety and respect for older people. It is deeply frown upon to act in ways that are disrespectful to anyone who is older. Through my time living with Thai people, I have learned a lot from them and it has improved the relationship that I have with my mother.
On this day, Thai people would seek forgiveness especially from their mothers. It is done by either taking flowers and bowing down to their parent’s feet and/or washing their parents feet.
Practice of asking forgiveness from your parents
This concept is practically unheard of in Western culture. In Western culture, grown children move out of their parents’ home when they turn 18 years old or slightly older. When their parents are old, they would expect to spend their days in nursing home when they are unable to care for themselves.
In Asia, grown children stay with their parents and take care of them till the end of their lives. People who did not treat their parents well are being outcast and reprimanded. In fact, I remember a video of a daughter (from Thailand) who was mean and beat up her mother went viral and went on to national television where her actions were being condemned by both the news channel and by the countless Thai people who watched the show.
Eastern religion and culture values filial piety and repaying the kindness of our parents as the one of the outmost important thing to do. Charity begins at home. There is no point that one go out and make a difference in the lives of thousands people (by being a smooth talker and motivational speaker) and yet let one’s parents live in dire straits without any gratitude to their parents.
If we do not care for our parents, our lives would not be smooth. I have come across cases of people from overseas who came to Thailand to consult spiritual teachers when their live and business is not smooth. They tried to ask if there are any amulets or special rituals that they could do to increase their luck.
Some of them are told that their live is not smooth because they have neglected their parents and not treat them well. They are told to go back, get some lotus flowers and kneel down to ask their parents for forgiveness and bow at their feet 3 times. Do it with sincerity and not because they want their live to improve. And don’t do it on a time time basis and then let everything go back to status quo later.
Some of my friends and I had done it, where we took flowers, knelt down at the feet of our parent and ask for forgiveness. When I did it, it was a very touching and emotional moment. Both my mom and I cried. That was years ago. Even though I did it without expecting anything in return, I did notice my life went more smoothly after that.
I know in the West, it is not common for a grown child to decide to take in their sickly and ill parent to care for them full time. The support and appreciation by those around is not there making the job of being a caregiver to be a lonely road and you may end up questioning yourself when times are tough.
The opposite is true- it is not unusual in Asia for us to quit our job and look after our parents like what I did. For some people who could not afford to quit (due to financial commitments like mortgage, loans, etc), they would take in their parent, and hire a maid to look after their parents full time.
In fact, it is frowned upon if the person chooses to chuck their parents to old folks home. So people who sent their parents to old folks home usually are a little ashamed and do not volunteered the information unless they are being questioned a few times (like relatives asking persistently where have their mom gone to?).
Yep, sometimes they may have not raised us well and they may have neglected or taught us wrongly. Many people grow up carrying wounds and grudges from their childhood and allowed these trauma to taint their relationships with others. If your parents are already old and sick, take a look at them now. No matter what, they have provided shelter, food and basic education. They are old, defenseless and unwell. The past is already gone and they no longer have the power to hurt you anymore. Why not make amends for the past?