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Be Humble and do as the Locals do during the Early Morning Alms

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A major part of the faith, almsgiving is the act in which lay Buddhists show respect, humbleness and humility to the faith by offering foods or useful materials to monks. It may look like a charity to the untrained eye. Just to let you know; it is not. It is instead an act in which the layperson shows his/her humbleness and respect of monastic life in front of society. Lay people also offer these items in order to obtain spiritual righteousness. You’ll definitely see alms giving while in Southeast Asia. And it can be a spectacle in itself.

The alms walk usually begins in the early morning. The intent is to never receive anything and only accept something if called upon by the people. It is more of a chance for society to make merit than for monks to receive their breakfast and lunch. Lay people, on the other hand should never give leftovers and only offer food or other materials with the intention of giving it to monks during their walk.

The layperson will quietly ask a monk to come over and offer him the necessary food and other items. The person will then crouch down and receive their blessings from the monk. It is customary for the layperson to do this with his/her shoes off, as the monk most probably will be walking without his shoes as well.

You are more than welcome to show your humility and respect by taking part in the alms walk. Just do as the locals do. The spectacle is on an even grander stage over in Luang Prabang, where literally, waves of orange makes its way around the UNESCO Heritage town. Be warned, by early morning we meant very early morning. A good night’s rest beforehand will serve you well.

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