Project Sekong 2013: Buddhist Temples And Monks

March 8, 2013

Laos is largely a Buddhist nation. In communities throughout the country, in villages, towns and cities, Buddhist temples are a prominent fixture and the monks who reside on temple grounds are a common yet colorful sight.

In the early morning hours, usually just at the break of day, monks will walk single file through their community seeking food and other provisions from residents. People donate in order to sustain religious traditions, but also with the hope that their generosity will earn them “merit” and future good fortune.

Elderly monks lead the procession, followed by less senior men, followed by teens. Bringing up the very end of the line will be the youngest monks, often boys younger than ten years of age.

The donated food is essential to the monks and must be consumed before noon each day. Following that midday repast, the monks may drink water but will not eat for the remainder of the day.

Few young monks choose to pursue a monastic life. Most are at the temple because, for a variety of reason, their families have entrusted their education to the monks. Parents may be too poor to afford other schooling; they may want their son to receive the moral education that the temple can provide; or they may believe that their son’s previous behavior calls for the strict discipline that the senior monks will enforce.

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