World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony attracts record numbers to Ayutthaya

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Muay Thai practitioners pay respect and get blessed with white headbands from the masters.
Muay Thai practitioners pay respect and get blessed with white headbands from the masters.

The 15th World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony attracted a record number of participants to Ayutthaya with over 1,500 Muay Thai practitioners from 70 countries attending the event from 16 to 17 March.

This eclipsed the largest previous attendance of over 1,400 participants in 2017. The Ayutthaya Historical Park was a hive of activity with multiple events at Wat Langkha Khao and the sacred Wai Kru ceremony held at Wat Mahathat, with the temple’s ruins serving as a dramatic backdrop.

Chairman of the ceremony, Dr. Sujin Chaichumsak, Governor of Ayutthaya Province.
Chairman of the ceremony, Dr. Sujin Chaichumsak, Governor of Ayutthaya Province.

Similar to religious pilgrimages, Muay Thai practitioners should participate in the annual World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony at least once in their lifetime.

The event gathers Muay Thai practitioners from around the world who express their gratitude to master teachers and trainers in the time-honoured ritual known as the Wai Kru ceremony, while celebrating the aged-old martial art of Muay Thai. It also pays homage to Nai Khanom Tom, a local hero, famous for his victory over 10 Burmese fighters in a boxing bout that took place in 1774 and who remains a hero of Muay Thai boxers to this day.

This year event kicked off as usual with Muay Thai practitioners from around the world attending a Brahmin ceremony paying respect to ancient Thai kings and warriors; namely, King Naresuan the Great, Phrachao Suea, and Phraya Phichai Dap Hak.

Then, the Wai Kru ceremony started with the 1,500 Muay Thai practitioners paying respect and getting blessed with the white headbands from the masters. After the ceremony, the newly blessed Muay Thai fighters joined a mass Wai Kru dance, led by four Thai Muay Thai champions.

Prior to the sacred ceremony, Muay Thai practitioners and the public learned more about the different styles of Muay Thai from various parts of Thailand, including Muay Chaiya, Muay Korat, Muay Thai Sao, Muay Lop Buri during the two-day Miracle Muay Thai Festival at Wat Langkha Khao.

There were also booths offering Yantra tattooing by famous tattoo masters, which were very popular among international visitors. In addition, there were stalls in the Thai food pavilion, selling local delicacies, as well as booths offering instruction in Yantra writing, Aranyik sword making, Thai martial art performances, and traditional Thai massage.

One of the four Thai Muay Thai champions led this year’s mass Wai Kru dance.
One of the four Thai Muay Thai champions led this year’s mass Wai Kru dance.
Newly blessed Muay Thai practitioners join the mass Wai Kru dance.
Newly blessed Muay Thai practitioners join the mass Wai Kru dance.

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