Tak Bat, Luang Prabang – The Receiving of Alms
Luang Prabang is home to an estimated 4,000 monks and every morning at dawn the monks emerge from their monasteries for Tak Bat, the Buddhist call to alms.
They file silently through the streets collecting balls of sticky rice from the pious local people. It is an awe inspiring sight. I followed them at a distance through the silent streets absorbing the serenity and spirituality of the occasion. It really is a must see occasion, and the highlight of my stay in Luang Prabang. My top tips would be; make sure that you are out by 5,30, and go down the side streets, the long side street running parallel to the Mekong River between the Royal Palace and Wat Xieng Thong is great, there were no tourists down here and I had the monks to myself.
The spell was broken when I got to the Main Street, Th Sisavangvong to find hordes of Chinese tourists with their cameras out together with their minibuses, engine running. All serenity and sense of spirituality was lost.
Code of Conduct
When you are observing the monks, be respectful, be quiet and maintain a low profile, remember that you are observing a spiritual occasion. There are local people selling bowls of sticky rice to give the monks and while it is appreciated, you need to give in the right way. It is not a chance for a great selfie, in fact it is not about you at all, it is about the monks. Obviously you want to take photos but do it subtly, without a flash and definitely not by getting in the way of the monks. The monks are very humble, they don’t say anything, but you are there is see them and share in their occasion, not to take it over.