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Time Required : 1 hour

Entry Fee : Free to attend

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Alms Giving Ceremony, Luang Prabang Overview

The alms-giving ceremony or Tak Bat is a ritual followed by the Buddhist monks every morning in the city of Luang Prabang in Laos. Watching this routine is one of the top attractions for tourists visiting the city, who gather on the streets in front of the temples during sunrise every day.

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Best time to take part

The alms-giving ceremony happens just after sunrise every day.

The Alms-giving ceremony History & Significance

Tak Bat is a very old Theravada Buddhist tradition practised in Laos and Thailand. It is the way of sustenance for the monks, and for the alms-givers, a path to seek spiritual growth and blessings. Feeding the monks is an act of merit for the participants, and monks get food every day from this. It happens just after sunrise every morning. The monks meditate, walking in a line and collect alms before heading to the temples.

Each monk has a large bowl with a lid to collect alms. The monk blesses the almsgiver who bows after offering.

Usually, sticky rice is the main food offered as alms, although additional dishes, including fruits, vegetables and meat can be given. People wanting to take part in the alms-giving ceremony wake up before sunrise and prepare sticky rice, and any other items that they wish to offer. The practice is to provide freshly prepared homemade food. Some people these days also offer food bought from the shops, which is also practised by tourists.

Tips

  • As tourists, it is expected to respect this sacred routine of the monks. Remember that it is not a cultural show to interrupt. Observe the ceremony by respecting the locals and monks with causing any disruption.
  • If you want to take part in Tak Bat, cover your back, knees, legs and shoulder. You are not allowed to touch monks, so it is essential to maintain a respectable distance. You need to take off your shoes if you are giving alms. Don't click photos or selfies while giving alms.
  • You need to keep your head lower than that of the monks and not look them in the eyes. Also, it is a tradition to bow down after giving alms.
  • The entire ritual happens in silence, where monks quietly meditate and walk past seeking alms from the residents. So do not talk with fellow travelers or engage in conversations with any monks at this time to disturb them.
  • Although the monks don't oppose photographing them, maintain a respectable distance take photos without causing trouble or discomfort to the monks. Do not use flash while capturing the event.

How To Reach Alms Giving Ceremony

The ritual happens all around Luang Prabang which is home to more than 80 temples, where monks head in the morning.  The most popular tourist routes are along the Kamal and Sakkarin streets in the old town. The best way to reach is on foot, which takes less than 20 minutes. If you are based outside of the city centre, you can hire a tuk-tuk for about 4 USD for a one-way trip that can be shared. You can also get there by renting a motorbike for about 10 to 12 USD per day.

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