Today was such a special day. We got up at 5am and met our friend Sith at 5:30am to give alms to the Monks. This is a daily ritual in Luang Prabang, but today was special because it was the dawn of the day which was the end of the 3 month Buddhist Lent. Most mornings, men and women line the streets and provide alms to the monks. The offer mostly sticky rice, boiled eggs and some bags of veggies or other healthy items. But because today was a celebration for all…wow…it was amazing! I really honestly believe that everyone who lives in Luang Prabang was in the streets. And it wasn’t just adults. Kids were awake too and they were eager to participate. And in addition to sticky rice, the monks received plenty of treats and snacks. The mood was festive and upbeat and Pete and I felt really lucky to be invited to participate as a local…not just take pictures like all the other tourists.
We did feel a little funny, though, as Sith and his girlfriend lead us from one street to the next so we could give out as much as possible. At one point, we were actually running ahead of the monks so we could get in line and give out alms. Important to note that women, like the nuns in this picture, must kneel. Men can stand.
Alongside of the monks, young boys walked beside them with large baskets filled with all the treats the monks receive. You see, the monks receive so much more than usual, they need to dump their bowls in order to receive more and finish their rounds in the neighborhood.
Once the monks have finished receiving their alms, they return to their temple, divide the food up among all of the monks, keeping just a meager amount for themselves, and then prepare offering to Buddha and many gifts for the poor. All day families bring their tray of offerings to have blessed by the monks, which later they will eat at home. It’s really a special time to be in Laos, and this Buddhist holiday is precisely why Pete and I chose this weekend to visit. Just wait till I tell you about the festival!
Have a look at my photos from Luang Prabang – more than just morning alms!
On the Bright Side,