If you are out and about shopping in Thailand you may notice some shops selling orange baskets or buckets which contain a number of everyday items like soap, detergent and toothpaste. These buckets are bought by lay-people who then donate them to monks or to the temple. By doing this, the person making the donation makes merit (‘tham boon’). The buckets are normally orange or saffron coloured and are often wrapped in cellophane.
The monk baskets are another example of how Thailand has combined ancient ritual with modern practicality. You will still see Thai people donating food and money to monks as the monks make their morning alms round, but the orange baskets may be donated for special occasions. For example, if somebody buys a new car or a new house in Thailand, it’s common practice for monks to be invited to perform a blessing ceremony. At the end of the ceremony a donation is made to the monks. This may be money which is placed on a pedestal tray or it may be the practical offering of the orange bucket which contains useful everyday items. The buckets or baskets vary in size and price and can be found at stores near temples or even in supermarkets like Tesco Lotus and Big C.