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Temple Offerings at the Flower Market

Jasmine, tobacco, and betel nut

Jasmine, tobacco, and betel nut are often offered at the wat

Thai fresh markets sell flowers, fruits, and food to offer at the temple, like these strands of jasmine, rough tubes of tobacco, and sliced betel nut. People take items like these to the wat to make merit or leave them as offerings on the small spirit houses outside their homes. Offering tobacco is not smoked, but instead ritually burned. Betel nut is chewed with flavorful spices as a mild stimulant, but this practice somewhat old-fashioned — it’s no longer typical among city-dwellers and young Thai people.

Jasmine is a fragrant flower typically used to make garlands like these. Its potent scent is often used to perfume cakes or candies. If you’d like to try this yourself, light a jasmine scented incense candle, blow out the flame so smoke rises from the wax, then enclose it in a box with lightly-flavored cakes or cookies. The smoke infuses the sweets with jasmine aroma and flavor.

See our photo gallery of Valentines Day bouquets at a flower market in Chiang Mai on our Facebook page.