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Thailand cave rescue boys to be ordained in Buddhist ceremony

The boys and the coach prayed in front of ancient relics at a temple in northern Thailand.

Most members of the young football team and their coach who were trapped in a cave in Thailand have attended a ceremony as they prepare to be ordained to become Buddhist novices and monks.

Eleven of the boys and the coach prayed in front of ancient relics and offered drinks and desserts placed in gilded bowls to spirits in a ceremony at a temple in northern Thailand, before their heads were shaved.

Members of the rescued football team attend a Buddhist ceremony (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

Parchon Pratsakul, the governor of Chiang Rai province, said the boys will be ordained to become Buddhist novices, while the 25-year-old coach will be ordained as a monk.

The 12th team member who was trapped in the cave will not take part because he is not Buddhist.

Wednesday’s ordainment ceremony will take place at another temple on a Chiang Rai mountaintop before the group returns to reside for more than a week at the Wat Pha That Doi Wao temple, near Thailand’s northern border with Burma.

That temple is close to the group’s homes, making it easier for friends and relatives to visit.

“This temple will be where they will reside after the ordination and I hope they will find peace, strength and wisdom from practising Buddha’s teaching,” said the temple’s acting abbot, Phra Khru Prayutjetiyanukarn.

Buddhist males in predominantly Buddhist Thailand are traditionally expected to enter the monkhood, often as novices, at some point in their lives.

“Ordinations are supposed to give us peace of mind,” said Sangiemjit Wongsukchan, mother of Ekarat Wongsukchan, 14, one of the boys who was trapped in the cave.

Soccer team member Pipat Pho has his head shaved in a traditional Buddhist ceremony (AP)

“We can only do this for nine days because then he will have to go back to study and prepare for exams. Back to his normal life.”

The 12 boys and their coach were released from hospital last Wednesday, more than a week after they were rescued from the flooded cave.

They became trapped on June 23 and were finally found by two British divers on July 2.

Rick Stanton, a fireman in his fifties from Coventry, and John Volanthen, an IT consultant based in Bristol in his forties, were the first to reach the group.

They were brought out of the cave in a daring rescue mission that ended on July 10.

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