The ritual of alms giving ceremony, also known as Tak Bat, is the most sacred Buddhist tradition in Laos that often takes place all day at sunrise. It’s also one of the prime reasons why countless travellers worldwide love flocking to the small city of Laos – Luang Prabang. At that time, monks dressed in their deep orange robes will go barefoot in silence through the streets to collect their daily meals. The ceremony begins on the city’s main street before widely spreading out to all the sides of the streets.
Monks begin the alms giving session – Photo credit @amasiatravel
To seize the essence of Buddhism, every man in Luang Prabang is said to experience the tonsure ceremony, and then become a monk in one temple for certain periods in his lifetime. Of course, it’s never an easy task at all, since the study’s length will vary, ranging from several months to even several years, just based on his willpower. As per the local tradition, monks aren’t permitted to cook themselves anything; instead, they just depend on the others’ kindness. For one meal a day, all food will be compiled from the locals here.
The locals are waiting to offer the food – Photo credit @amasiatravel
Actually, the practice of alms gathering is trusted to date back from the 14th century; however, up to now, the residents still make a habit of waking up early to prepare food. After that, they kneel or sit by the roadsides, and then wait quietly to give the monks their offerings. It is both spiritual and peaceful, giving tourists a breathtaking chance to have their own experience of the ancient Lao tradition.
Foreigners are attending the ceremony – Photo credit @amasiatravel
When the sun illuminates the ground of the city, more than 200 monks from different temples will start their day by coming to various streets in the neat queues. In general, while the senior monks have a role in leading the queue, the junior ones shall follow. Going barefooted, each of them also does not forget to hold an alms bowl for the given offerings.
A little boy is expecting some offer from the monks – Photo credit @amasiatravel
The locals (including tourists) honestly kneel down on the mats, and offer their prepared rice, fresh fruits, flowers, or other sweet snacks to every pass-by monk, whereas the monks will slowly open their bamboo basket’s lids, and then quietly accept the alms. There is no word and no conservation here; everything just happens tranquilly. At times, it’s quite easy to notice some small kids from poor families, who stand near the line of the monks with the hope that they might get something from the monks to bring back home.
The monks on the way return to the monastery – Photo credit @amasiatravel
- Firstly, if you want to participate, it’s also advised to buy your gifts in advance and arrive early. Without a doubt, it’s truly a disrespectful manner to disrupt the ceremony when it has commenced. If possible, don’t mind following the guidance from the locals, and then kneeling down ready to supply the monks with your offerings. Not only is the way for Buddhists to make merits, but it is also the only food that such the monks are allowed to eat for the day; that’s why it becomes a crucial ritual.
- Secondly, please choose suitable clothes that cover your shoulders, chests, torsos, and legs properly. In case you want to make an offering to any monk, it’s highly encouraged to keep your head lower than theirs. While giving your food, remember that body touch or eye contact is not a proper manner, especially when you are female.
- Finally, if you wish to save the memorable scene by taking shots, make sure to shut down the camera’s flash and keep yourself from a distant position in order to show your great respect to the sacred ceremony.