Yesterday I had the privilege of going to a pagoda to receive a water blessing from a monk.
When you arrive at a pagoda it is expected that you bring an offering of something that is useful to the monks. Typically our class brings incense and candles, drinks, and sometimes sweetened condensed milk. You sit before the monk and bow three times, placing your hands on your forehead and then on the floor each time. The monk says a blessing over the offerings and the people who bring them.
In Cambodia, the monks often play dual roles both of monk and sometimes as fortune teller. Our teacher asked the monk if he would be willing to tell our fortunes and he agreed. He pulled out a huge book, which I presume to have had written fortunes for each year and the time of year it was. I gave him my birthday and sign according to the Chinese and Cambodian years (which happens to be a rat). He told me that I don’t always listen to my family, but listen to my friends too much. He said that sometimes this leads to me being taken advantage of. For me, this year is supposed to be a good one but that next year will not be. He also said that since the angel guarding my sign is a male I am strong, and when I set my mind to something I will be sure accomplish it. I’m not sure how much I believe of fortune telling, but perhaps it’s good to keep in mind.
After we all had our fortunes told, we went back to receive the water blessing. In my sleep deprived state, I had managed to pack two extra shirts and no shorts. Fortunately, they were equipped with spare skirts and I was able to borrow one.
One of my classmates, my teacher, and I chose to receive the blessing. We sat in a small tiled room with our backs to the monk. We held our hands in a praying position. The monk began to chant something, and I heard the sounds of splashing. All of a sudden, a giant bucket of water was dumped on my head.
The blessing went on for around five minutes, and every few seconds another bucketful came crashing down on my head. I was soaked.
Afterwards we changed out of our soggy clothing into the replacements we brought and headed home. The blessing is supposed to bring one luck, so I hope it works.