We had a fantastic morning today for the celebrations of the end of Buddhist Lent. We got up at 5am to pay our respects at the temple, giving alms to the monks and being blessed for the upcoming year.
We started off by filling our bowls with various items to give – you must give sticky rice, money, and anything else is up to you. We travelled up to the temple and firstly went inside the temple (shown above) where we waited on our knees for our turn to get to the front, shuffling forward whenever a space became available. After half an hour kneeling we were pretty pleased to get to the front! The experience of waiting in the crush to get to the front and see Buddha was really intense – imagine hundreds or thousands of people all crushing into a space, all wanting to move forward, all carrying their “Khan” bowls with offerings inside jostling for space. And constantly inching forward on their knees.
We then lit incense and candles and placed them at the front along with everyone else’s, and made wishes for the coming year.
Then it was time to line up with all the beautifully dressed Buddhists and give all of the items from our bowls to the temple. It’s kind of like a procession where you give at least one thing out of your bowl into each collection bowl – there is a big line of bowls to collect money, rice and whatever other food people give.
Local families then visit the stupa of their deceased loved ones, which are near to the temple and pay respects, and then each person takes a small bottle of water, pours it on the base of a tree and sends their wishes out into the universe / to Buddha.
After that we visited the head of the temple who blessed us and tied strings on our wrists. A point to note here is that the strings are different from the strings tied on wrists in a Baci ceremony. The strings that were tied today have been made by the monks themselves who have blessed the strings for good luck and then blessings are said when they are tied on the wrists. Our photos of this awesome, inspiring ceremony are here.