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The female Theravada bhikkhuni lineage was never established in Thailand. As a result, there is a widespread perception among Thais that women are not meant to play an active role in monastic life; instead, they are expected to live as lay followers, making merit in the hopes of being born in a different role in their next life. As a result, lay women primarily participate in religious life either as lay participants in collective merit-making rituals, or by doing domestic work around temples. A small number of women choose to become Mae Ji, non-ordained religious specialists who permanently observe either the eight or ten precepts. 

Lay women, outside there sleeping quarters at a temple in northern Thailand, 2010.

The female Theravada bhikkhuni lineage was never established in Thailand. As a result, there is a widespread perception among Thais that women are not meant to play an active role in monastic life; instead, they are expected to live as lay followers, making merit in the hopes of being born in a different role in their next life. As a result, lay women primarily participate in religious life either as lay participants in collective merit-making rituals, or by doing domestic work around temples. A small number of women choose to become Mae Ji, non-ordained religious specialists who permanently observe either the eight or ten precepts.

Lay women, outside there sleeping quarters at a temple in northern Thailand, 2010.

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