Chilli Banana Thai Street Food Welcome the Buddhist Monks

9 Aug 2016

Monday 8th August 2016 wasn’t a ‘normal’ Monday morning for us in Bramhall. Chilli Banana Thai Street Food welcomed the young novice monks of Wat Phra Dhammakaya Manchester.

It was the halfway point of their two week retreat to the Temple (Edgeley Road, Stockport) and the seven young novice monks were there to feast before midday.

Chilli Banana Monk Retreat Lunch

Aged between 6 and 11, the boys partake in this two week program to show respect and grow as a person in unison. It is seen as a ‘thank you’ to their mother for giving them life, amongst other things, such as gaining independence and showing respect for the Buddhism religion. The lads are kept away from TVs, mobile phones and certain foods and taken back to the basics of learning how to mop the floors, fold clothes and make sushi. This may sound very serious and not something you’d expect a young child to enjoy, but they absolutely love it!

“I love going to the temple because I’m a Buddhist. My mum is Buddhist and my dad is English. I like going to the temple because sometimes I’m naughty and I want to be good for my parents.”

Chilli Banana Monk Retreat Lunch

This was the response of one of the novice monks Nhuea (son of Stephen and Nok Blaney, owners of Chilli Banana) who we spoke to after he’d had his fill of wonderful Thai food and pizza from Mercato. They couldn’t eat until they’d been offered the food and accepted it as well as chanting in the Parvi language, a moving experience for all that were there.

All of the boys wore orange robes, which are sacred in this religion and restrict the boys from any female contact when being worn – something which is particularly difficult for the boys and mothers alike who can’t give them a cuddle when they’re bursting with pride! Trips to the museum and the Peak District are lined up for the lads next which were all very excited about their upcoming events. The hike in the Peak District whilst wearing their robes should be loads of fun – let’s hope the weather holds up!

Chilli Banana Monk Retreat Lunch

One of the novice monks in particular grabbed our attention, as neither of his parents originate from Thailand. They actually live on the Isle of Skye – a mammoth 10 hour drive away from the Temple. A few years ago, Patrick and his parents were down here visiting friends who had connections to the Temple. He declared to his parents that he wanted to take part in the two-week program and when told about what this would entail, he wasn’t deterred but had just missed the window for that year. He didn’t forget about his ambition though and when 2015 came, he told his mum and dad once again that he wanted to become a monk. We caught up with mum and dad and they spoke of their pure admiration towards the Temple and the hospitality there (they’re staying there during the two-week program) as well as their fondness of the Buddhist lifestyle in general. Of course, they’re bursting with pride over their son, Patrick, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and takes a large interest in places where some of his school friends may not. Patrick enjoyed 2015’s retreat so much that he’s back again this year! His mother admitted that it can be hard at times; not necessarily the early mornings, long drives and late nights, but at last year’s ceremony to formally leave the temple, she couldn’t give him a hug to say how proud she was, as he still had the robes on!

“The friendliness, the warmth, the generosity, the kindness… it really is an eye-opener. Not just the monks, but the whole Thai community.”

Chilli Banana Monk Retreat Lunch

Strong feelings towards their son’s cause has led to changes at home too. Lisa, the mother, has become a vegetarian in support and is enjoying it thoroughly. DIY skills have improved somewhat too, as both mum and dad have been painting and helping out in the temple kitchen as gratitude for the hospitality they’ve received as well as partaking in the charitable ethos there. Patrick takes his new found skills home as well. His wider reading has improved around other cultures to his at home, he’s matured a great deal and he’s now a very thoughtful young boy who is making his parents extremely proud. Even more so because this was something that he thought of himself with no persuasion off his parents at all – if anything, Patrick pushed his parents into it!

Recommendations are aplenty for this cause and it’s easy to see why. Thank you to the amazing Chilli Banana for hosting it and providing excellent food (as ever!) with Mercato’s lovely pizzas!

Wendy from said

I was delighted and honoured to be invited to Chilli Banana today, I learnt a lot more about the Thai culture and Buddhism, the place was awash with vibrant colours, smiling children and gorgeous food!

To have a look for yourself what these amazing boys do, click this link!

Photo thanks to Chelsea Shoesmith Photography

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