Good morning! Are you a Buddhist or a fan of Buddhism? Do you know how to give alms in the early part of the morning? It’s doesn’t matter who you are and what kind of religion you belong to.
Lao Buddhism people don’t care about the type of religions, nationality, and country and so on. We welcome everybody and have respect for one another.
Please read through the information below. They become useful information and guidelines for travelers traveling to Laos.
Currently, according to the society of Laos, it has developed and became more competitive. Traffic jams in the town are very terrible, working people are hurrying up to work, schools, etc… as well as for their personal reasons and duties.
Especially Vientiane city is becoming more complicated comparing to the past 10 years. So you can see that many of the people joining alms giving Buddhism in the morning are Laotians who are 50 years old or up. Because they are retired and staying at home. They don’t go out to work, shopping or to school. They have more free time than others.
Some people may think that Buddhists are serious and difficult to understand, especially the young generation.
In fact, almsgiving is very simple to follow through. I explain to help you how to give alms in the morning by following three simple steps.
First of all, let me explain to you a little about the history of Morning alms from my point of view.
History of Alms Giving Buddhism in the Morning
Normally, the morning alms (Sai Bat in Lao) is a living Buddhist tradition. It is a key way for a monk to maintain their oath and for Buddhist laities to practice to gain their merit for the afterlife.
Normally, if you come to Laos, you will see that the monks of each temple are walking around the streets in the early morning. Novice Buddhist monk holds their alms bowl as they attend a mass alms-giving ceremony every morning.
Furthermore, there won’t be any monk walk around any roads or come out from the temple on Date 8th, 14th, 15th of Lao calendar or we call “Van Sin in Lao” or the full moon day.
If you have the Lao calendar, you can notice a small Buddha symbol on the date. The calendar has about 4-5 days per month.
Another way, you can search on Google “Lunar Calendar for Buddha Temple.” During this time of the year, they stay in the temple and don’t go out to attend a mass alms-giving ceremony outside the temple.
But, Lao people who are restricted in Buddhism; they will go to give-alms at the temples instead.
Let me explain a little bit about the purpose of the full moon ceremony or “Van Sin”, which is related to morning alms.
“Van Sin” is a meeting of monks, meditation, listing to Buddha teaching, practice 5 chants, and praying respect to Lord Buddha. Moreover, Many Lao people would like to do morning alms on many special occasion for example: First of Buddhist lent, End of Buddhist lent, Ancestor Festival, Rice growing Festival, etc…
I will explain to you more festivals in my other articles about the festival in Lao or in Lao as “Boun”.
Presently, this belief in Buddhism which there are still remains in Buddhism countries like Laos, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka. Many Buddhists trust that we should not kill any animal for today. This is because you will be too scapegoat.
Coming back, let’s talk about with simple 3 processes of giving alms in the morning as following:
Preparation of Alms Giving Buddhism in the Morning.
Arrangement of things: For almsgiving, you can give sticky rice/rice, snack, fruits, food, a bottle of waters, candle etc… depending on what alms you want to give in the morning.
If you get up early, you can cook food and offer that to the monk for their breakfast. However, it is okay to buy cooked food for this ceremony as well.
Your mind and body: mindfulness.
Dressing Code of Alms Giving Buddhism in the Morning
Men and women should wear clothes politely; do not wear colorful costumes. It is polite and good to wear clothes that are plain and white in color.
– Women should dress up with Lao- skirts /skirt covering your legs and wear a scarf on her left shoulders.
– Men should dress up with long pants covered your legs and wear a scarf on their right shoulders.
– The Normal Day: Along the road or street of each village (As I explained above shortly. If it isn’t Van Sin).
– Special Day (or Van Sin): temple of each village
4 Steps of giving alms to monks and time of Alms Giving Buddhism in the Morning
In the early part of the morning around 5:30 AM to 07:00 AM, everyone who wants to give food to the monk.
It is an animated tradition for the Lao people and Buddhist countries around the world.
Early morning you will see elders, young people and other people Sai Bat, they will seat on the floor mat or small chair.
First, they hold up bowl to their heads. Second, they use their hands by taking out the things they have arranged and place on the monks’ alms bowl of each monk one by one until they empty the basket. After that, they will have two hands beside each other on the chest.
Finally, the monk going to give them a blessing, and then you will see all people who join this activity will pour water into the land. The meaning that you give a wish to the land of mother to delivery this merit to your ancestors, friends, animal, and the starving ghost, ask them to forgive or release them from the suffer or curse of karma…etc.
Steps of giving alms 1-2
Steps of giving alms 3
Steps of giving alms 4
– Women should not touch monks’ bodies and avoid any physical contact with the bronzes. It’s very important for women to know that they are absolutely not allowed to touch the monk’s body.
– Men are able to contact a bronze.
– If you are an observer, please do not stand too close to the monks.
– Dress appropriately: legs, chests, shoulders should be covered.
Credit Photo: Oudomxay Tourism
If you are looking for the most ancient traditional morning alms, I recommend you should visit Luang Prabang or Oudomxay province, northern of Laos.
The ceremony will be held in the city center. Luang Prabang is a popular tourism spot, you will see that there are a lot of visitors, also crowded. You may try to do this activity with local people once when you arrive in Laos. Anyway, you can also see in Vientiane capital or any places in Laos.
Advantage of Alms Giving Buddhism in the Morning
Do you know why we should do this means of giving alms in the morning? you may know or you may not. You can share your experiences and your knowledge through this article as well.
I am very happy to hear about your experiences of Alms Giving Buddhism in the Morning. Did you try to do it? Would you like to try to do if you will visit Laos in the near future? Sure, you should 🙂
According to some information from the Buddhism Chanel called “Purifilm Channel” on YouTube from what I have seen. They mentioned that Buddha speeches and Buddhism believe is that we will get many basic benefits as below:
– You will be become satisfied by many people.
– Academicians, intelligence people prefer to be friends with a giver.
– A giver will be famous in a good way.
– You will be near to Buddhism teaching.
– If you die in the future, you will go to heaven.
– Moreover, it will be good that you practice your kind mind; if you are kind, it will bring you through happiness.
– To build your heart happier and make society more peaceful, because the purpose of this giving means that you should not be selfish, focusing on nice and sacrifice.
– To reserve the customs and promote our great culture and attract
– To be a good example for the next generation;
– To contribute doing kindness;
– If you are parents, you should be a good example for your children. When you are not good sampling, they will not follow for morning alms. Then this activity will not appear later.
– To expand Buddhism because monks should not be alive without providing from us. If nobody gives food to the monks, they won’t have any food for eating. After that, Buddhism will end at present.
– Renewing sainthood and to link the richest for ourselves.
In the end, my understanding of this rule, it is just “to give”. I would like to tell everyone that you can give to other people as well, not only monks, not limited to nationality, kind of ethic group. Let’s be kind to each other! Giving or helping people is a basic mindset of people all over the world.
“If you donate and assist others, your good deeds may return good things back to you soon.”