As we might all know, Laos is well considered as The Land of a Million Elephants. But that’s not all about this country. They also have their own traditional customs that you won’t regret to admire at least once in the lifetime.
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Have you heard about the Tak Bat alms giving ceremony in Laos? It’s an early morning activity which is a Buddhist tradition for the people of Luang Prabang and nowadays it has become a tourist attraction. But when visiting Luang Prabang, we should know about their customs so our behaviors won’t be disruptive.
First of all, let’s find out what they do in the Tak Bat Ceremony of Luang Prabang. The “tak bat” word means “giving alms to monks”, so early every morning at dawn, monks go down to the streets, stay in line and get some food. The residents prepare the food to fill in monk’s bowl. They always give the best food they have because in their idea, monks deserve the best, and by giving the good food to the monks, they also gave food to their relatives who already died.
The people are ready with their food waiting for monks pass by
During the activity, the people queue readily with their food, monks walk by smoothly holding their bowl, people will put food in the bowl. Until monk’s bowl is full, a layman can empty their bowl to a big plate and then monks can continue walking.
When the residents give alms, they have to remove their shoes and be on their bare feet, and also are the monks, they walk with bare feet. Normally the people make a short pray before putting the food into monk’s bowl. Specially women should be careful and beware since they mustn’t touch the monks. Monk is the symbol of purity and they won’t say thank or look at the people giving alms.
Monks are the symbol of purity
All the process happens in silence, everyone participates including the alms givers or tourists who observe the ceremony should remain in silence during the activity and show respect. If you want to participate in the Tak Bat, please buy rice on market in the early morning than buying from street vendors during the monks walking. And if you just want to observe the activity, please keep an appropriate distance and act respectfully, don’t walk into the way of the monks. If you use camera to save beautiful moments, please keep a distance or do not use flash, since it will be quite disturb. One last but no least thing, to join the Tak Bat, you should dress appropriately, your shoulders, chest and legs should be covered and don’t make physical contact with the monks.
So, perhaps that’s almost all we need to know about the Tak Bat spirit. But no way it could be alive and real until you go to Luang Prabang and admire it with your own eyes. Tak Bat maybe is the everyday morning activity in Luang Prabang, but it might be the chance of lifetime for travelers. Let’s go, should we?
Explore other interesting rituals in Laos HERE
Images source: Internet