Small Sticky Rice Pot


The following informant is a 61-year-old Thai immigrant who heard the following story growing up as a kid in the Issan region of Thailand. This interview was carried out in a mix of Thai and English. In this I will be denoted as C and the informant will be denoted as U

U: This is story from around where I am from in the Issan region of Thailand. This is the story, uh, the story of the small sticky rice pot. There this one family with no father, the father died and they only have a mother. When it is time for them to go to the field, because they are farmers, the son goes to work and he goes to plow the field. He gets very tired because the Issan region is very hot. It is hot all day, and he get exhausted and are very hungry. Normally the mother, the mother even though she is very old, will come and bring food for her son every day. She will bring a lunch box for him every day. But today she comes later than usual because she’s also tired. The son is throwing a fit and complains, “It is so hot, I’m so thirsty, and so hungry.”

He’s frustrated because the Issan region is so hot. The mother, when she approaches the field he only sees a small sticky rice pot hanging from her stick. And he’s unhappy. She’s carrying the rice on a stick and put the stick on her shoulders. And he sees how small the rice pot is and he’s not happy. Because the pot is so small and he is extremely hungry, hungry to the point of being angry and frustrated. He’s in such a bad mood from this and starts thinking “The rice in that pot definitely won’t make me full.” And he says to his mother, “Old lady, what have you been doing to bring my food to me so late, and the food that you brought is just this small rice pot. How do you think I’ll be full?”

The mother responds, “Even though the rice pot is small. I pushed the rice down into it until it was tight. It tight all the way to the lid. Try eating it first.”

But because the son was angry, and hungry, and angry no matter what his mother said he was still frustrated. So, he took the stick and hit his mother so she would fall and he took the rice pot to eat. The son didn’t like what his mother had to say. He eats the rice until he is full but there is still more rice in the pot and he thinks, “I was in wrong because I was angry, I hit my old mother so she would fall.”

So he ran over to check on his mother and held her crying but she had already died.

C: What he hit her until she died?

U: Yes. Now the son is crying thinking, “I killed my mother when I was angry and not thinking.”

He’s frustrated and doesn’t know what to do so he goes to the temple and explains to a monk what he did. The monk tells him, “Killing your mother or your father is an extremely heavy sin. Once you die you will never be reborn as a human again. If you want to lighten your sin you need to build a stupa.”

You know what a stupa is right? They’re the big towers in temples. So, he needs to build this stupa and place his mother’s bones in the stupa. He needs to build the stupa as high as doves can fly. Now the son begins building the stupa by shaping clay and wood, until it is tall and huge and he names it Stupa Small Sticky Rice Pot that Made Him Kill His Mother (เจดีย์ กล่อง ข้าว น้อย ฆ่า แม่, Cedīy̒ kl̀xng k̄ĥāw n̂xy ḳh̀ā mæ̀, Stupa Box Rice Small Killed Mother). And in the stupa, he has depictions of what happened. The end.

C: So, once he built the stupa he was okay?

U: He built it so everyone would know what he did. That he killed his mother over a small sticky rice pot. In a fit of rage and hunger.

Context: This tale is very interesting because it brings up the idea of reincarnation is which part of Buddhism and is Thailand’s main religion. Also it reinforces the values of respecting ones parents.