All Souls Day

All Souls Day was celebrated at Don Wai on Saturday 1st November at 8am. The little cemetery next to Sarnelli House was cleaned and tidied and the villagers’ graves had flowers and candles on them. A mass for the souls of the dead was said by Fr Shea and Fr Kay under the little custom built sala, which only has a roof and no walls. An organ had been moved from the local church and somehow connected up to electricity in the cemetery and the singing rang out over the silence. Children, adults and old people sat on mats or plastic chairs around the sala as the sun started to beat down, and after the mass all the graves were blessed. The little fenced in cemetery area for the deceased children of Sarnelli House and their benefactors who wanted to be buried with the children, was also blessed. A special blessing over the small gravestone of Gary Smith was made, he was a cousin of Fr Shea, living in Wisconsin who recently died of cancer. He and his family had been extremely generous to Sarnelli House and the children, funding the building of the Mary and Jospeh Hall and helping with the funds for the Gary Smith house out on the farm, amongst other things. Many kids were silent and solemn as they watched this ritual and they respectfully laid candles and flowers on the grave stones of their little friends. 

All the ladies from the villages of Pi  Si Tong and Don Wai  had cooked up a feast – great big pans of hot, spicy Isaan dishes, grilled chicken, fried noodles, noodle soup, papaya salad, sticky rice, spicy pork salad  and then Thai sweets in coconut milk. All this was available on big tables in the open air after the mass. Kids ran around seizing food from all the tables, dogs barked and people walked around the graves and remembered their loved ones and then ate and chatted.  It was all over by 10am and everything was packed up in the back of pick up trucks and removed. The next day, at the same time there is a quietness and a lingering sense of peace where the flowers still bloom on top of the graves.