I quite unexpectedly came upon a rather bizarre site this evening in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Streets lined with hundreds of Buddhist monks holding bowls and accepting offerings from people. I parked my motorbike and walked along the street watching people give to the monks, and sometimes kneel in front of them and receive a blessing given in the form of a chant.
The practice is known as almsgiving, and while people give gifts to the monks this is not considered charity but rather a symbolic connection to the spiritual realm. The act of alms giving assists in connecting the giver to the monk or nun and what he/she represents.
Despite what my picture looks like, there were many people giving to the monks. While most people walked by and put their offerings in the bowls of the monks, I was surprised to see a number of cars slowly drive past with people giving offerings with an arms stretched from the window of the car. That didn’t seem quite right to me, but then again, what the heck do I know about alms and Buddhism!
Apparently monks collect alms early in the morning every day across the entire country, but early mornings and I have never been well acquainted so I haven’t seen this. However, this was clearly some kind of special event as the nearby temple was heaving with people and there was a lot of chanting going on.
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