Tak Bat (Almsgiving) in Luang Prabang
If you are travelling to Luang Prabang then attending the “collection of alms” is a must do exercise. The ceremony is unique to Laos, especially in Luang Prabang, and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Known as “Tak Bat” to the locals, it has long fascinated many tourists, because of its originality. It is based on the moral of Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced in Laos.
At approximately 6:00am each morning the monks assemble in the great temples with their “begging bowls”, and then led by the experienced senior monks, they proceed in single file along their designated routes begging for food, for their daily sustenance.
Locals present foods; like sticky rice, fruit, cakes, lollies and water etc.
The monks, resplendent in their colourful costumes, walk bare footed through the streets where people with food assemble. Upon arrival of the monks the devotees place their offerings into the bowls and receive a prayer and a blessing as a reward.
When the monks have finished their journey, they all return to their temples for breakfast. Normally they only eat one meal before sunset and they do not eat by themselves, but share the food with the poor, other monks and animals.
The walking monks do not discriminate between rich and poor, nor do they discriminate over the offerings.
There are a number of things to remember if you attend the ceremony:
• Do not offer uncooked food or money to the monks.
• Do not speak loudly or point your fingers at the monks.
• Never approach very close to the monks, or use a device with a flash.
• Always dress politely and modestly
• You should remove your shoes and kneel down in front of the monks.
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