Boodsabann Chanthawong recently joined a growing number of women defying generations of Thai Buddhist tradition by becoming ordained as novice monks at an unrecognized all-female monastery outside Bangkok. Leading a procession of 21 other women — from teenagers to senior citizens — to a chapel in the Songdhammakalyani monastery in Nakhon Pathom province, Boodsabann teared up as she prepared to exchange her white garments for the distinctive saffron robes otherwise seen almost exclusively on male monks. I'm going to overcome this obstacle and become ordained like I've always wanted," the 49-year-old businesswoman said before the ceremony on Dec. 5, where she would have her head shaved. She stayed for nine days at the temple. Officially, only men can become monks and novices in Thailand under a Buddhist order that since 1928 has forbidden the ordination of women. The country does not recognize female monks or novices. One option for devout Thai women is to become white-clad Buddhist nuns, who follow a less-strict religious regimen than monks and are often relegated to housekeeping tasks in temples. In recent years, more Thai Buddhist women seeking to become full-fledged "bhikkunis," or female monks, have been defying the tradition by pursuing the other option: getting ordained overseas, usually in Sri Lanka or India. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the 74-year-old abbess of the Songdhammakalyani monastery, flew to Sri Lanka to be ordained in 2001 as Thailand's first female monk. Since then, she has helped women like Boodsabann join the Buddhist order as novices at the monastery's ordination ceremonies every April and December. Thailand's rebel female Buddhist monks defy tradition Yep, bucking the Thailand system.