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Thai Soccer Boys Shave Their Heads for Buddhist Ceremony

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The boys rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand earlier this month have cut all the hair off their heads. Their coach, who also was rescued, has done the same. The head shaving ceremony Tuesday was in preparation for their training to become Buddhist clergy.

Eleven boys and their coach prayed and offered drinks and food to spirits at a Buddhist temple. One team member who was rescued did not take part because he is not Buddhist.

The chief of Chiang Rai's Buddhism office said the boys will do their Buddhist service in honor of Samarn Gunan. He was the Thai former navy SEAL who died on a dive in the cave’s waterway to help the trapped team.

Pornchai Kamluang, his coach, and his teammates who were rescued last week from a flooded cave have their heads shaved in a traditional Buddhist ceremony in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 24
Pornchai Kamluang, his coach, and his teammates who were rescued last week from a flooded cave have their heads shaved in a traditional Buddhist ceremony in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 24

Tradition calls for Buddhist males in Thailand to enter the clergy at some point in their lives. The service is to show thanks, often toward their parents for raising them. It is also believed that they will gain goodness and protection through such service, and that those qualities will extend to their parents.

The provincial governor said the boys and their coach will be ordained on Wednesday. After that, the group will stay for more than a week at a religious center near Thailand’s northern border with Myanmar.

The team and coach were released from a hospital last Wednesday. They had been trapped on June 23. British divers found them July 2 and a three-day effort to rescue them ended successfully July 10.

Around 200 people gathered to observe the head shaving ceremony.

Apinya Winthachai, a local Buddhist religious worker, said, “I was so happy to see them alive and I thought it would be good to attend the ceremony to show them our support.”

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Chanin Vibulrungruang, his coach, and teammates who were rescued last week from a flooded cave have their heads shaved in a traditional Buddhist ceremony in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 24
Chanin Vibulrungruang, his coach, and teammates who were rescued last week from a flooded cave have their heads shaved in a traditional Buddhist ceremony in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Tuesday, July 24

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on AP news reports. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

ordain - v. to officially make someone a minister, priest, rabbi, monk...

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