Northern Thailand and morning alms

Northern Thailand and morning alms

Northern Thailand and morning alms

Northern Thailand and morning alms, Travel Photo Mondays

The Buddhist ritual of the morning alms of monks happens all over Thailand. Rising early, along with locals paying their respects, the monks appear each morning on the main roads from the temple to collect food and other contributions from local people in the streets and offer blessings in exchange. This daily morning ritual has been a custom all over Thailand for a very long time with the monks walking barefoot and leaving their temples carrying empty alms bowls. The line up usually starts not with the eldest but the monk that has lived the longest time frame at the temple and this typically is the Abbott. Walking in a line, the monks come up to each participant who will be on their knees and placing in each bowl something that is ready to eat. Typically this can be rice, water, meats, curry or individually wrapped offerings they have made or purchased for the daily alms.

The process is a way of lay people showing respect to the monks and a way of merit and connecting with each monk. In return, the monk or the collective at the end of each collection will chant and give some type of blessing or prayer as a lesson to all the lay people present.

 

Alms offering at a temple in Chiang Khan

Alms offering at a temple in Chiang Khan

 

Witnessing and participating in this process was fascinating and beautiful. Not only was I immersed in the act offering daily sustenance but also connecting and exchanging something daily and culturally important to the Thai people and culture. From what I learned afterwards is that the monks take their food offerings back to the temples and shares it within their community  and this sustains them for the two daily meals a day.

Offering alms of rice in Chiang Khan

Offering alms of rice in Chiang Khan

 

I alternated between standing and taking photographs and giving alms as a way of connecting and being part of this morning ritual. Afterwards, it was a fantastic opportunity to walk to the wat and through the grounds of the many temples at the wat. Freshly offered flowers and food were also put on display at various alters which made everything colorful and fresh to photograph, a perfect time to be present during the visit.

 

The temple grounds at Chiang Khan

The temple grounds at Chiang Khan

 

 Visiting the temple grounds

It was nice that the alms ends directly at the local temple at Chiang Khan so it was easy to follow the monks in and explore on my own the various buildings of the temple grounds. While many of the buildings are open to the public this particular temple only had a few buildings open for the public to go and pay their respects to the Buddha. There where many statues and adornments to all the buildings to make this an interesting spot to focus on detail shots to each particular site.

Temple guardians at Chiang Khan Wat

Temple guardians at Chiang Khan Wat

 

 

 

A shrine with flower offerings at Chiang Khan Wat

A shrine with flower offerings at Chiang Khan Wat

 

 

Ornate façade at Chiang Khan Wat

Ornate façade at Chiang Khan Wat

 A morning alms video at Chiang Khan

 

Some notes and observations

The time frame for morning alms ranges from 6:30 to 8:30 in each community so check ahead of time to find the correct times

Bring enough to offer to a group of monks and not just one monk

Bring something comfortable to kneel on and be barefoot or you can share if a lay person has brought a large blanket

You cannot touch a monk during this process only the bowl

The bowl is the only possession a monk will have personally

 

 

I hope that you enjoyed this post on Northern Thailand and morning alms for Travel Photo Mondays. If you did, please do share it with any of the social media buttons around the post and please do visit the other bloggers participating in todays link up.

, , ,

7 Responses to Northern Thailand and morning alms

  1. Paul (@luxury__travel) May 11, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    I’ve not yet been to Thailand (would love to go!) and hadn’t heard the term ‘alms’ before but am familiar with those small baskets as rice is served in those at our local Thai restaurant. Sadly, though, the rice also sits in a plastic bag inside the basket… is that normal?!

  2. anna parker May 8, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    Incredible colours and what a special treat to be involved in the ritual, quite incredible – that is why we travel, to see the world and how other people go about their day to day

  3. Kathryn Burrington May 8, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    What a fascinating experience brought to life with your colourful photos. Would love to take part in this myself one day.

  4. heather Cowper May 8, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    I’m glad you gave some alms as it sometimes feels like these religious ceremonies can become a bit of a circus for the tourists which seems disrespectful

  5. Suzanne Stavert May 4, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    Photos like a postcard. I especially liked the photos of the temple grounds. I need to get to Thailand. I find it overwhelming to decide where to go!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Top food destinations around the world - February 7, 2016

    […] Morning alms offering in Chiang Khan […]

  2. Untapped Loei in Northern Thailand - Travel Photo Mondays - May 3, 2015

    […] Chiang Khan is one of the most colorful and picturesque cities along the Mekong and Loei province. The river front and adjoin streets are filled with interesting towns, quirky galleries and shop,  and there is a lively night market that happens nightly with the riverside street closed off from traffic. I woke up early to do the morning alms to the Buddhists walking the streets towards their temple and giving blessings, it was a fantastic experience and I toured around the temple grounds afterwards. I wrote about that experience recently in this post. […]

I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our discussion with any comment you would like to add