#AbolishProstration: Bodindecha community demands change

Over 1,000 members of the Bodindecha (Sing Singhaseni) School community signed a petition asking the principal to abolish mandatory prostration.

Students prostrating during the ceremony.

On 2 July, the Bodin Democracy group launched a campaign to demand that the school end the practice by encouraging netizens who agree with the cause to use the hashtag #AbolishProstration (#ยกเลิกหมอบกราบ) until it trended on Twitter.

On 4 July, the group wrote a petition to the school’s principal calling for prostration to be replaced with the ‘wai’ as the way to greet and show respect. 1,276 people, including current and former students, signed the petition.

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According to the petition, students at the school are forced to prostrate themselves as a way to show respect to others. The group sees that as a way for teachers to oppress students as some teachers said they would not let students look up until they were satisfied.

The petition details six reasons and justifications for the change:

  1. Due to Covid-19, it is not safe to prostrate oneself as it requires direct physical contact with the ground, which is a source of germs and dust.
  2. Due to limited space, prostration is not convenient for students, especially girls with skirts.
  3. There are other ways of showing respect besides prostration without oppressing students.
  4. The act of prostration dehumanizes students.
  5. King Chulalongkorn abolished the tradition of prostration.
  6. It is not a long-practiced tradition of the school as claimed, but was adopted in 2013.

The group pointed out that they are not against acts of showing respect but they are against acts of dehumanization.

Not only students at Bodindecha (Sing Singhaseni) School but students at Bodindecha (Sing Singhaseni) 2 School and Satri Rachinuthit School are signing similar petitions.

Prostration has been a gesture of respect and hierarchy in Thai society for a long time. It can be seen in religious, family and monarchy-related activities.