(323)657-3496 Email Us Travel Agents

This Buddhist Tradition will Surprise You | Almsgiving Ceremony Laos

Today I want to talk about something that is hard for everyone. It is something that our parents tell us will give us character, that our friends say will make us stronger, and that society says will make us a better person. Today I want to talk about Sacrifice.

When we hear the word sacrifice we normally associate it with giving up something in exchange for nothing, but what if I told you there was a place where the people wake up at 5:00am to sacrifice portion of their own food for the day because they believe sacrifice is about showing goodness and kindness to others.

I’m talking about a place called Luang Prabang in Laos. Early in the morning at 5:00am hundreds of monks wake up, leave the temples, and walk through the city streets collecting their morning alms (sticky rice and other simple foods) that is give to them from the local people as a part of a special alms giving ceremony.

The monks walk in a single file line down the main streets that lead to the royal palace, where locals kneel by the curbside with their heads bowed and their feet tucked away - showing respect for the monks who are passing by.

This religious ceremony has been observed since the 14th century, and is the only way that monks can receive their meal each day as they do not have regular jobs. The monks instead spend their days studying, meditating, and learning how they can better serve the people around them.

In turn, during the almsgiving ceremony the people of Laos sacrifice their own food and give it freely to the monks. Foreigners visiting laos may think this is strange or may criticize giving up food to someone who in their mind did not earn it.

But. That. Is. Not. The. Point.

There are many different ideas, viewpoints, stereotypes, and beliefs about Buddhists and monks and especially about sacrificing on behalf of complete strangers. But… whether you are sacrificing food, or anything else - remember that it is giving up something that actually makes you stronger in the end

Suggested Itineraries

Southeast Asia Articles