Alms Giving in Southeast Asia
Upon your visit to Southeast Asia, you may wonder what the people are doing to the monks walking by on the streets. What is it these people are giving? What is the purpose of this? Here is a brief explanation on alms giving.
Alms giving is an act of giving something materialistic to religious individuals in order to obtain spiritual righteousness. It is a part of daily life for many Buddhists in the region.
Monks will start their alms walks early in the morning and traverse barefoot. A monk will go on these alms walks without the intent of receiving anything. It is more of a chance for people to make merit and a monk will only stop if called upon. People will offer rice, which is scooped into a silver bowl the monk carries. Curries, flowers or other items are usually put into an orange shoulder bag that the monk also brings along. The food should never be leftovers and should be prepared with alms giving in mind. In return, the monks offer prayers and blessings to the people.
The process of giving alms is pretty universal for everyone. They will quietly ask a monk to come over and offer him the necessary food and other items. The lay Buddhist will then crouch down and shape his or her hands in prayer for the blessing. It is customary for the person to do this whole procedure with his/her shoes off as well.
Monks can be seen being accompanied by a little boy. This child is usually from a poor background and will assist the monk in return for leftover food before heading off to school. If the child is an orphan they are allowed to sleep in the temple. Sometimes a teenage boy will assist monks on alms walks as well. They are disciples of the monks and can assist in matters such as carrying of heavy bags and money handling, which lay Buddhists can offer to monks.
The sight of orange clad monks on their alms walks is a unique event for many visitors. You can offer your alms and receive your blessings while having a memorable experience in Southeast Asia
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Fact File: Exotissimo arranges trips to Thailand and Laos, where alms giving opportunities can be arranged for you.
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