Early Morning Alms Giving to the Monks

Attraction Luang Prabang Published on: 13-11-2015

30 mins
05:00 AM - 12:00 PM
06:00 AM
06:30 AM
First-time visit
Must see
People watching
0.00 USD

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  • Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
The early morning alms giving to the monks in Luang Prabang, Laos, is one of the main attractions that lures many travellers to the laidback Mekong River town

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Why Early Morning Alms Giving to the Monks is special ?

The Buddhist monks' morning collection of food in Luang Prabang, has become a must-see for travelers to Luang Prabang inLaos. And yet the tak bat's growing popularity among tourists may also be turning this serene ritual into an endangered one.The practice of offering food to monks is most visible in Theravada Buddhist countries like Laos and Thailand, , where the practice sustains large monastic communities.

In Luang Prabang, this tradition manifests as a morning ritual where monks silently line the streets while locals (and interested tourists) put gifts of food into the bowls carried by the monks.

The image of monks parading through the picturesque streets, from the most senior monk in the lead, right down to the most junior novice monk scurrying along at the end of the line, has become the iconic image of Lunag Prabang, if not Laos.

Source: http://goseasia.about.com/

What to explore at Early Morning Alms Giving to the Monks?

It's one of the most vivid images of Laos - from 5:30 in the morning onward, silent lines of saffron-clad monks walk down the streets of Luang Prabang to collect alms. The locals are there ahead of them, ready with bowls full of the Lao staple sticky rice; every monk gets a scoopful in their bowl.

With almost eighty temples in Luang Prabang alone, this adds up to hundreds of monks, who take different routes depending on where in town their temple stands. The routes that walk through Th Sakkarin and Th Kamal are among the most viewed by tourists, although the ritual occurs all around Luang Prabang.

Each monk carries a large lidded bowl, which is attached to a strap hanging from the monk's shoulder. As monks file past the line of almsgivers - who are usually sitting or kneeling on the street - these containers are reverently filled with handfuls of sticky rice or bananas.The best rice for the tak bat ritual is prepared by the almsgivers themselves. The locals wake up early to prepare a batch of sticky rice, which they then scoop generously into each monk's bowl as the line files past.The ritual is done in silence; the almsgivers do not speak, nor do the monks. The monks walk in meditation, and the almsgivers reciprocate with respect by not disturbing the monk's meditative peace. For hundreds of years, the ritual has cemented the symbiotic relationship between the monks and the almsgivers who maintain them - by feeding the monks and helping the laypeople make merit, tak bat supports both the monks (who need the food) and the almsgivers (who need spiritual redemption).

Source: http://goseasia.about.com/

3 Days in Luang Prabang

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3.0 days
629.86 USD
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Tips for you

  • Dress modestly (don’t wear revealing or tight clothes) and remove your shoes if you’re making an offering. Kneel, as it’s important that your head is not higher than the monks’ heads.
  • If you must participate, try to do it with the hotel staff or other locals so you are respectful and follow etiquette, for instance, you need to ensure you withdraw your hand immediately after serving the rice so you don’t touch a monk.
  • Don’t buy rice or other offerings from vendors; if you can’t make it yourself, your hotel will make it for you.
  • If you want to take photos, use a long lens so you can maintain a respectful distance.
  • Find out which direction the monks are coming from and where they’re heading to so you can plan your shots before they arrive.
  • Do not use a flash. Most cameras these days have sensors that allow you to shoot high ISO so you don’t need to temporarily blind your subjects.
  • Don’t make eye contact, and this is especially important for women.
  • Arrive early so you’re not a distraction.
  • Ask your hotel where you can best watch the alms giving ritual so that you can avoid the circus.

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