We ventured out at the crack of dawn to give alms to 12,600 monks. I am still unsure as to the reason for the event. Various explanations I got were.
“It happens twice a year.”
“It is to commemorate the 2,600 anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment.”
“It happens once every six years.”
“I don’t know why it happens, but everyone should go and make merit.”
Once I get to what seems like a plausible answer, I’ll let you know. Or if you have one, please let me know!
We arrived to what I estimated to be about 10,000 people waiting patiently as guards lined the area where the monks would proceed. People were extremely orderly and engaged in prayer.
We made a donation to the money tree. The alms given to the monks gets distributed to temples and aids areas affected by flooding.
12,600 monks, I was assured this was the number, filed in and proceeded around in two long columns receiving alms. The sea of saffron had a lulling effect and each monk had a placid look on his face. Despite the hoards of people, the event was very calming.
We offered rice and dried foods. The crowd’s most popular offering by far was noodle packets.
Each monk received the alms in their urn and handed it over to a volunteer to bag for distribution to temples.
The monks dispersed to area temples and those that traveled for the event boarded buses home.
Participating in this has been yet another amazing memory from our trip. I wish I could tell you when the next monk gathering would happen so you can plan to be here, but I still have to figure that one out.