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Laos forum

Morning alms

Posted by amz155 on 1/9/2006 at 04:49

This question may be a bit intrusive but here goes....
Where is the best place in Luang Prabang to witness the monk's morning alms round? Any tips on how to respectfully view and appreciate this?
Thanks!

#1 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by somsai on 1/9/2006 at 06:41

"Any tips on how to respectfully view and appreciate this?
Thanks!"

Well you asked so... Don't take photos. A quick search on the net yields millions of LPB safron robed monk photos.

#2 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 568
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Posted by amz155 on 1/9/2006 at 07:58

right....i figure no photos and probably watching from a distance is best. so where is my best bet to see but not make a spectacle of the daily ritual?

#3 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by somtam2000 on 3/9/2006 at 03:49 admin

Hi amz155,

While somsai is correct, it's probably worth noting that if you're not there taking pics, you'll be the exception to the rule! I've seen foreigners there offering alms to the monks just so thir partner could get a pic of them doing so!

If I was there and needed some more pics to add to my library of 123,645,876 pics of monks in saffron, I'd lean towards walking around the town very early in the morning taking pics as they go through the motions -- while the most photographed area is the main river road that runs up the peninsula, remember there's dozens of temples and really -- monks all over the place. The monks are used to being photographed, and if you're taking photos of them from a distance, that shouldn't be a problem at all, though if you're taking close-ups etc, always remember to ask first.

Have fun!

#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,706
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Posted by aemilys on 3/9/2006 at 04:03

I saw this and it was really interesting. I refrained from taking photos, kept a respectful distance and just observed (I did see some tourists sort of butting in and stopping the monks to give them things but perhaps this is not a problem?).

I also have a question because not only were the monks receiving food they were giving it as well. Children stand among the people giving food with bags held out and sometimes certain monks give food to them. What is this?

I suppose in a western country the religious people who rely on donations would organize a "soup kitchen" but this was a real give, take, give back situation. Does it always happen like this?

#5 aemilys has been a member since 14/9/2005. Posts: 4

Posted by somsai on 11/9/2006 at 00:27

#5 aemilys I don't know the answer to your question. I do know the monks care for the indigent and old people without families, etc. Maybe they are feeding the street kids. I ran across the following on a Lao Govt website it's from a poster they have posted in LPB in 5 languages. It sounds like there has been quite a problem with the morning alms giving. Might be turning into a zoo. Too bad. There are morning alms in almost every town large enough to have a temple in Laos and Thailand.

AMZ I'd say probably the best place to see and not contribute to a spectacle would be anywhere but LPB Old town.

This is how it goes.....

The morning monks alms round (Tak Bat) is a living Buddhist tradition for the people of Luang Prabang which because of it’s beauty has become a major tourist attraction. However when tourists are unaware of it’s customs, their inappropriate behaviour can be disruptive. We would like to draw your attention to this religious practice, which has great meaning for the people of Luang Prabang.

How to respect the Tak Bat

Observe the ritual in silence, and contribute an offering only if it is meaningful to you and you can do so respectfully.

Please buy the rice at the market earlier that morning, rather than from the street vendors along the monks’ route.

If you do not wish to make an offering, please keep an appropriate distance and behave respectfully. Please do not get in the way of the monks procession or the believers offerings.

Do not photograph the monks too closely, camera flashes are very disturbing to both the monks and lay people.

Dress appropriately, shoulders, chest and legs should be covered.

Do not make any physical contact with the monks.

Large busses are forbidden within Luang Prabang World Heritage Site and are extremely disturbing. Do not follow the procession on a bus- you will stand above the monks which is extremely disrespectful.

Take part in the morning alms giving ceremony by protecting it’s dignity and its beauty. The community and the authorities of Luang Prabang thank you in advance for your collaboration.

Link to report here

Kop Jai duh

#6 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 568
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