What:   Waikhruu Ritual (Full name: Wai Khun Khruu Buchaa Khrueang Ritual)
When:  Saturday, March 11, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 12, 9 a.m. - 12 noon
Admission: Free of charge, but seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
Location: Jan Popper Theater, 1200 Schoenberg Music Building, UCLA
For more information: Waikhruu Ritual

By Supeena Insee Adler
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Waikhruu ritual at the Luang Praditpairoh (Sorn Silpabanleng) Foundation in Bangkok, Thailand, taken on August 7, 2016. In the picture, Mr. Asdavuth Sagarik (wearing all white in the front holding a book), who is a great-great-grandson of Luang Praditpairoh, receives a holy text for the waikhruu ritual from one of Luang Praditpairoh’s students, Master Sanau Luangsunthaun, a National Artist in Thai music (wearing all white and sitting on the bench). This sacred transmission provided Asdavuth the right to conduct the waikhruu ritual himself, which he will do for the first time at UCLA on March 12. Photograph by Supeena Adler.


On March 11 and 12, 2017, the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology will host a historic two-day Thai waikhruu ritual event in the Jan Popper Theater that will be a great opportunity for admirers of world music and of Thai arts and culture. This public event is a traditional Thai waikhruu (“honoring teachers”) ritual to celebrate the restoration of the Thai traditional musical instrument collection at UCLA. The full title of this event, Wai Khun Khruu Buchaa Khrueang (ไหว้คุณ ครู บูชาเครื่อง), refers to paying respect to the teachers of past and present who have carried knowledge from the past into the present, to the gods and spirits, and to the musical instruments that are the vehicles for teachers and students to turn their knowledge into sounding music.
    Thai music was established at UCLA by Dr. David Morton in the 1960s and 1970s, and after four decades’ silence was revived in spring 2016 by Dr. Supeena Insee Adler. The musical instruments at UCLA were restored by Adler in 2015 and are now being played again by students at the university in a Thai music ensemble class. Much of the Thai musical instrument collection at UCLA came in the 1960s from the Bangkok house of master Luang Praditpairoh (Sorn Silpabanleng), the most renowned Thai classical musician of the first half of the 20th century, now represented by a foundation bearing his name. To intensify and continue this historical relationship between UCLA and the foundation in Thailand, we have invited a group of musicians from the foundation to conduct this two-day waikhruu ritual on campus. After the ritual, during their visit, they will also make a studio recording at UCLA to produce educational materials for students and scholars worldwide.
    In addition to performing and recording on campus, the musicians will perform in other university classes and at two Thai community centers to advance and promote knowledge of Thai music throughout Southern California. Attendees at the UCLA event will include ten student Thai music groups from California and one from Chicago, as well as UCLA’s ensemble. These events are funded by the Royal Thai Consulate General in Los Angeles, the Thailand Foundation, the Tourism Authority of Thailand Los Angeles, Thai Beverage, the Luang Praditpairoh (Sorn Silpabanleng) Foundation in Thailand, and by multiple organizations in Thailand and in the U.S., as well as by private donors. The event is presented by the World Music Center at UCLA, which comprises the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, the UCLA World Musical Instrument Collection, and UCLA Ethnomusicology Publications, providing a unique resource for scholarship, teaching, and community outreach related to the traditional and popular musics of the world.

Thai musical instruments that are being donated vis the foundation to UCLA in 2015. In the picture are (left to right): Asdavuth Sagarik, Anant Narkkong, Malinee Sakarik, and Supeena Insee Adler.












Final class performance in the Music of Thailand and Laos class at UCLA, taught by Dr. Supeena Insee Adler in spring, 2016.













Meaning of the title "Wai Khun Khruu Buchaa Khrueang"

The word wai means to pay respect, referring to the gesture when people put both hands together in front of their chest and then move them up to their face and bow gently, and that means to pay respect to anybody.
     The word khun in this case has a double meaning, which means to owe someone. The other is a pronoun meaning “you.” Khruu means teacher. One learns from a teacher and then you owe them. In this case, what we pay back is respect.
     The other word, buchaa, also means to pay respect, referring to the religious idea that you put something higher than youself. The word khrueang means musical instrument. So we are also paying respect to the musical instruments that are our voice.
     The meaning of the whole title - Wai Khun Khruu Buchaa Khrueang - means to pay respect to the teacher, the knowledge of the teacher, and the knowledge you learn from the musical instrument.
                                                                              -- Supeena Adler












Who we are paying respect to with this ritual

I invited a special group of master musicians from Thailand who are descendants of [renowned Thai classical musician] Luang Praditipairoh.
     We are also paying respect to Prasidh Silapabanleng (1912-1999), son of Luang Praditipairoh, who helped David Morton [emeritus professor of music from the UCLA] to acquire the musical instruments for UCLA.
     David Morton (1920 – 2004) is actually the first foreigner who went to Thailand to study Thai traditional music. First, he went to the Fine Arts Department, and later he went to Luang Praditpairoh's house, where he met the son of Luang Praditpairoh. Later, he brought some musical instruments to UCLA and made field recordings.
      Information about the Thai instrument restoration project
      Newsroom article on restoration with performance video
      I would also mention our guest Malinee Sakarik. She is one of the granddaughters of Luang Praditipairoh. She would very much like to hear the musical instruments that came from her grandfather’s house.
                                                                                    --Supeena Adler


















Participants in the ritual ceremony

Students. The ritual is for my students to be able to witness this special event and for them to ask permission to study the sacred repertoire. Traditionally we believe that before students learn a new level of repertoire, they are supposed to pass this ritual to prepare their mind and body.
     There is a traditional belief that if the student learns repertoire (the sacred repertoire, not the entertainment repertoire) without asking permission first, that you will somehow lose your mind. After you perform, you will not be respected.  You will not have the correct way or appropriate way to perform on the musical instrument.
     Music scholars who are interested in learning about this ritual.
     Ten Thai music ensembles from across California, one ensemble from Chicago and one ensemble from Ohio who will bring their students to participate in this ritual.
     Malinee’s grandson, Mr. Asdavuth Sagarik, who now has permission to lead the ritual. He will be the officiant for this event.
     Dr. Deborah Wong, who will give a presentation about the waikhruu ritual.
     Dr. Helen Rees, who will discuss the world music collection at UCLA.
     Anant Narkkhong, a music scholar in Thailand who will talk about their preparations coming to UCLA to conduct this ritual.

                                                                                -- Supeena Adler





















The first class at UCLA to use the Thai instruments after their restoration, “Music of Thailand and Laos,” taught by Dr. Supeena Insee Adler in spring 2016.