Tak Bat

by Johnny

In Luang Prabang, the daily alms giving ceremony, known locally as tak bat, is a beautiful thing to witness.  Each morning around sunrise, hundreds of saffron-clad Buddhist monks set out from the over 60 temples spread throughout Luang Prabang to collect food offerings from the local people.  In silence, they walk past kneeling alms-givers, who place a handful of sticky rice or fruit into each monk’s bowl.  This collection of offerings is all the monks will have to eat for the entire day.  The ceremony supports both the monks (who need the food) and the alms givers (who earn merit and blessings).

Anna and I were fortunate join Vong, our awesome guesthouse owner, one morning for his daily tak bat routine.  First, Vong took us to his local temple, Wat Nong Sikhounmuang, where Anna and I sat in silence as he meditated and prayed in front of Buddha statues for several minutes.  Next, Vong led us out to the street for tak bat, where he handed out sticky rice to each and every monk that passed by.  Some people have complained that tak bat has turned into too much of a tourist spectacle, and they may be right.  However, seeing Vong’s daily devotion to the monks made Anna and I realize what a sacred, special and genuine ritual tak bat is, and we felt very fortunate for the opportunity to join him.

Wat Nong Sikhounmuang Vong’s temple, Wat Nong Sikhounmuang
Vong passing out sticky rice to the monks

The numerous beautiful temples, the flashes of saffron robes that catch your eye throughout the day, the chants and drums of the monks in the afternoon, the iconic tak bat ceremony…one can’t help but feel some sense of spirituality while in Luang Prabang.  Definitely a special place.

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