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Learning Thai Manners 3
This is continuing with the story of the parents that took their daughter to visit her grandmother. Arriving at the front door, they are greeted by their niece. As she is a lot younger than them, notice how much more respect she is showing to the two adults. For them, all they have to do is a “receiving wai” as their niece is still a child.
The mother then turns to her daughter and tells her to say “hello” to her cousin. As they are not of similar age, the younger cousin has to pay more respect. Notice that the niece, who is probably about 3 or 4 years older, is just doing the receiving wai. However, the daughter, being the youngest, has to do a full and deep wai. If the two children were of the same age then they would only need to do the standard straight wai without the courtesy.
Now they are shown into the presence of the grandmother. She is probably the eldest of the family and so therefore the matriarch. Everyone has to pay her the greatest of respect. Notice how they are all approaching the grandmother. They are doing this on their knees because she is seated. It is important that their head is not higher than that of the grandmother. Notice also how the niece is sitting respectfully off to one side.
Now they entire family are doing the respectful “seated wai”. You saw some close-ups of something like this the other day. See how they are not actually kneeling but sitting on the left leg. They then bow down to the floor with both the hands and elbows touching the surface. This is, of course, very different to how Thai people pay respect to a Buddha image. I showed you those pictures the other day. With a Buddha image they would kneel and then prostrate to the ground with their hands flat on the surface in front of them.