During the latter half of the 20th century, most Buddhist monks in Thailand began their careers by serving as temple boys, primarily to gain a basic education. The number of children living as temple boys has declined, although some parents still choose this form of religious education for their children. Boys, and in some localities, girls, are now typically ordained as novices. Novices are not required to follow the full range of monastic rules. They are often in closer contact with their families, spending more time in the homes of their parents than with monks. Temporary ordination is the norm, for between one and three years. After this period, most young monks return to lay life, going on to later marry and begin a family. Depicted here is one young monk in meditation.