Friday Lens Affair 154


 Tak Bat Ritual, Lunag Prabang, Laos

Today I’m hosting a photograph of Tak Bat ritual taken by Mihaela Popa from World Travel Bug Blog.

I have chosen this specific picture because in opposite to many others, Mihaela tried to respect all the rules of this specific Buddhism ritual. I myself have seen it live more than 8 years ago and did not take pictures at all.

Here is a very useful article about things you need to know about Laos.

Mihaela is a traveller and photographer in love with Asia. Loves to experience food from all over the world and meet locals and listen to their stories.

She is not a digital nomad but she did leave her job to travel temporarily and went on a solo adventure throughout SE Asia last year.

When she returned she started her blog in Aug 2015. Do follow her on Facebook and Instagram for more interesting stories like this one.

Photo Story: Tak Bat Ritual

I did not know what to expect of Luang Prabang before I got there.

This is, on one hand, to satisfy my curiosity, thirst for knowledge, interest in other cultures or call it whatever you want, and on the other hand, I also consider it as a form of respect for that culture.

For example, because of that, I know that I should never blow my nose in public in Japan, hand in and receive a business card with both hands in most countries in Asia and no chewing gum in Singapore, to mention just a few.

However, I didn’t know much about Laos. But a few days in Luang Prabang and I got to satisfy my thirst. I have always been attracted by and interested in Buddhism. Luang Prabang is the place where I have learned the most.

I spent days there and almost every morning I went to a place called Big Brother Mouse where people could come and speak to local children in order to help them improve their English skills.

So this was a form of volunteering which was one of my favourite experiences during my solo trip through SE Asia.

There I met also a few novice monks and one of the caught my attention in particular as he was really intelligent. I met with him almost daily after that first encounter at the school.

Learned a lot about Buddhism and about the lives of the Buddhist monks from him and from other little monks I got to talk to. I spent hours on end in their temples listening to their stories. It was an amazing experience!

In Laos, they practice the Theravada form of Buddhism, which is one of the two main schools of Buddhism, the other one is Mahayana.

The Tak Bat ritual or Almsgiving ceremony (pictured here) is typical for Theravada Buddhism, and it consists food being offered to monks by the lay people. This is the only food that monks will eat during the day.

They are only allowed to have 2 meals per day: breakfast and lunch. The reason for that is that the second part of the day is entirely dedicated to feeding the spiritual self rather than the physical one.

Unfortunately, being the main tourist attraction, the Tak Bat ritual is heavily impacted by the mass tourism.

There are “instructions” absolutely everywhere about what to do and what not to do during the ceremony.

Yet a lot of people do not respect them thus transforming an age-old tradition in a commercial parade. Making the local people very uncomfortable.

I too took pictures but I tried to use some common sense in doing so. Kept my distance from the monks. I was sitting lower than them (a Buddhist rule).

Did not look at them or trying to disturb them. I did not use flash, I did not get in front of them.

Obviously in these circumstances, you don’t get to take “the best” pictures, however, I believe that respecting local traditions and customs is way more important here.

There are “instructions” absolutely everywhere about what to do and what not to do during the ceremony.

The Alms Giving Ceremony – Tak Bat Ritual is one of the most sacred Buddhist traditions of Laos.

In the early morning (around 5.30 AM) Locals start preparing food for the monks, the lay people seek spiritual blessing by way of the monk’s acceptance of their offering.

From the oldest to the youngest monks come out of the temple in saffron-robed walking along the streets in single file.

The Ceremony begins with the exit of monks from Wat Mai Temple, located on Sisavangvong street, surrounding streets and later the monks end the ceremony once again returning to the temple Wat Mai.

In the morning of Luang Prabang hundred of Buddhist monks from 33 temple-monasteries depart from their various temples to gather their daily meal.

The tradition of alms gathering dates back to the 14th century, yet still today locals wake early to prepare the food for the monks and wait quietly by the roadside to give their gifts.

Although the main purpose is for locals to give alms to the monks, you will also notice small children kneeling with baskets in the hope that the monks will share some of their alms with them so that they can take food back to their family.

Do you love this post? Feel free to share it!


Check out rest of Friday Lens Affairs here!


Pin Tak Bat Ritual

11 thoughts on “Friday Lens Affair 154

  1. Jose Allen

    Your image is great when you don’t have a good position. Agree with you respecting local traditions and customs is very important. Sometimes, you’ll get trouble if somebody sees you not respect their local traditions and customs.

  2. maxman

    there are many rituals in the world , this is one of them
    culture is a symbol of every country

  3. I remenber, the majority of the population according to Buddhist Laos. A very small number of people (2%) according to the Christian and Protestant or non follow any religion.

    • I guess it is all numbers, not always accurate but indeed Buddhism seems to have a large following there!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #163My Profile

      • Hamid

        Is there any other places that observe Tak Bat in Laos? I heard they do it in some part of Thailand and Cambodia, but however, none of them are as famous as in Luang Prabang.
        Thanks for sharing

  4. Interesting and a beautiful photograph.
    Yogi recently posted…Driving Lessons, Tourists, and a RantMy Profile

  5. I absolutely loved Luang Prabang, one of my favourite places in South East Asia – and I completely agree about the ritual. When we were there, it still seemed relatively quiet early in the morning although a lot of people had turned out to watch, and many were definitely not so respectful. I did take some photos myself, but again, tried to keep my own distance and not to impact on this living tradition. #theweeklypostcard
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…Temples and tradition: Two days in Bagan, BurmaMy Profile

    • I have the same feeling Cathy, I have been there many many years ago and it was a bit different, more calm, less people but in all this year Thailand and Laos became the most popular destinations in SEA, maybe that is why I have stopped going.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #155My Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

CommentLuv badge