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Phrasong (พระสงฆ์)

Thai. Term for a Buddhist monk, of which there are 350,000 in Thailand, assembled into the Sangha, the community of monks that follow the Buddhist canon. Thai monks need to submit to 227 rules of conduct and shave their heads on entering the monkhood, and after that once a month, on wan kohn (fig.), i.e. the day before full moon or wan phen. Contrary to monks of neighbouring Theravada Buddhist countries (fig.), i.e. Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, Thai monks and novices also shave their eyebrows, a practice said to date back to the period when Siam was at war with Burma. To expose Burmese spies disguised as monks, Thai clerics introduced the practice of also shaving the eyebrows, which has continued ever since. In Myanmar, monks and novices shave their heads four times a month (fig.).