As a cultural heart of Laos, Luang Prabang city preserves the quintessence of culture and religion that appeals to tourists, and Luang Prabang Morning Alms Giving is a special ritual to observe or even attend. This is a long-lasting Buddhist ceremony that reaches the tourists’ radar to experience in the early morning. You will be interested in the iconic sights of many saffron-robed monks who are walking barefoot and gracefully receive offerings.
Morning Alms Giving in Luang Prabang – a living Buddhist tradition
Morning Alms Giving in Luang Prabang (also called Tak Bat) is the act of giving donations (sticky rice, fruit, or sweet treats) to the monks. It is an antique practice existed for more than 600 years of Theravada Buddhism and a cultural key/identity of Lao people. The devotees should get up before dawn to cook sticky rice as the food offering to the monks. Around 5:30 AM, the locals will give daily food to the monks and the monks bestow merit in return. Walking barefoot in silent meditation, the Buddhist monks and novices will move on the streets to receive offerings from the locals who are kneeling before them. The concept of “give and receive” is positively preserved in this meaningful event. It also creates an interesting sight to behold.
The Alms Giving Ritual takes place across the town, but the popular places to observe it is in Luang Prabang old town, along Sakkaline Road. Beginning from Wat Sene, the silent monks will walk along the main street to be joined by the others from nearby pagodas. It creates the long saffron sights to capture.
Attend Alms Giving Ceremony with Respect
The growth of tourism in Luang Prabang and the interest in witnessing Laos Morning Alms Giving have made it a tourist highlight in the traveler’s viewpoint, rather than the deeply religious ceremony which is honored by the Laotians. This ritual is usually at the top of things to see in the city. Guidebooks and websites advise on where to find the best views, and tour guides give support to guests wanting to attend the ritual. In most cases, visitors are expected to treat this Buddhist ceremony with respect.
Remember that this ritual is an important part of Lao culture and religion. Though travelers are welcomed to observe and attend, they should be willing to enjoy it respectfully. If you choose to observe and take photos, don’t make a noise or disturb both the locals and the monks who are following their spiritual tradition. And if you choose to participate, experience it in a modest way, such as not taking a selfie while you are giving alms to the monks.
Tips to Experience Alms Giving in Luang Prabang
To be a respectful participant, keep in mind the following:
- Attend if the alms giving ceremony has some meanings to you; otherwise, it’s better to just observe.
- Watch how the local people do it and follow the correct etiquette.
- Rise at dawn as the early participant to avoid interrupting the ritual.
- Dress appropriately with the covered shoulder, chest, and legs. The same is applied to the observer.
- Kneel with your feet folded behind. Female participants should hold their heads lower than the monks’ heads.
- Experience the ceremony in silence.
- Do not make physical contact as well as eye contact with the monk. Don’t push the monks.
To be a thinking observer and photographer, remember the following:
- Respect the distance in order not to interrupt the Buddhist ceremony. Don’t take close-up photos of the monk.
- Should not use a camera flash.
- Observe/take pictures in silence.
- Do not chase the alms routes or interrupt it by any means.
So you know how to both observe and participate in Luang Prabang Alms Giving Ceremony. The key is to experience it with respect.
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