On Sunday morning, 10,000 Buddhist monks from four nations gathered in the middle of Hat Yai Thailand to receive alms offerings from Thai and foreign Buddhists in a customary annual ceremony.
A ceremony for mass alms offerings began at 6 a.m. in Hat Yai, presided over by Somdet Phra Maha Vajiramangalachan, chairman of the southern Buddhist sector, with Maj Gen Pakorn Chantarachota, commander of the 42nd Army Circle, in attendance.
Monks from 14 provinces in southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia attended. Thousands of Buddhist worshippers from the four countries attended the international Buddhist alms offering as well.
According to Withaya Sae Lim, spokesman for the organising committee, this year’s event was the 20th after a three-year hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The exercise was also meant to enhance tourism in Songkhla, notably at Hat Yai.
“Merit makers had fully booked all hotels in Hat Yai.” At least 20,000 tourists were expected to attend the Buddhist teachings, producing at least 180 million baht in revenue,” he said.
He stated that the alms provided to the monks would be dispersed to 323 temples in southern Thailand as well as soldiers on duty near the country’s southern border with Malaysia.
Buddhist Alms Offerings in Thailand
In Thailand, alms offering is a traditional Buddhist beliefs that involves giving food and other essentials to monks as a form of merit-making. This practice is deeply rooted in Thai culture and it holds spiritual significance for both the givers and the recipients. Here’s a brief overview of alms offering in Thailand:
Buddhism Tradition: Alms offering is based on the teachings of Buddhism, where monks rely on the generosity of laypeople for their basic needs. Laypeople provide food and other necessities to monks as a way to support their spiritual practice and earn merit for themselves.
Merit-Making: Merit (known as “บุญ” or “boon” in Thai) is accumulated through performing good deeds and acts of generosity. By offering alms to monks, Thai people believe they are creating positive karma and accumulating merit, which can improve their present life and influence their future lives.
Daily Ritual: Alms offering is typically carried out in the morning as part of a daily ritual. Buddhist monks leave their monasteries and walk along the streets or designated paths, while laypeople wait with offerings such as rice, fruits, bottled water, and other necessities.
Respectful Process: Laypeople kneel or stand in a respectful posture as the monks pass by. They place their offerings into the monks’ alms bowls while avoiding direct physical contact. The act is performed silently and with a sense of reverence.
Community Involvement: Alms giving is often seen as a way to foster a sense of community and togetherness. It is a practice that unites people across different socio-economic backgrounds and creates a sense of unity and connection.
Cultural Significance: Alms offering is not only a religious practice but also an integral part of Thai culture. It is portrayed in art, literature, and media, and it plays a role in major life events such as weddings, funerals, and important festivals.
Tourism and Etiquette: In areas heavily frequented by tourists, such as popular temples in Bangkok and other tourist destinations, visitors might have the opportunity to participate in or witness alms offering. If you’re a tourist and want to take part, it’s important to observe the local customs and etiquette. Dress modestly, maintain a respectful demeanor, and ask locals or temple staff for guidance if needed.
- Changes and Modernization: As Thailand has modernized, some aspects of alms offering have evolved. For example, in urban areas, monks might receive offerings of money or pre-packaged food due to convenience and hygiene considerations. However, the core practice of giving to support the monks’ spiritual journey remains intact.
Remember that participating in alms offering should be approached with respect and understanding for the cultural and religious significance it holds for the Thai people. If you’re interested in learning more or participating, it’s a good idea to research local customs and practices or even seek guidance from locals or temple authorities.
Buddhism holds a significant place in Thai culture, society, and everyday life. It’s the dominant religion in Thailand, and its influence can be seen in various aspects of the country. Here’s an overview of Buddhism in Thailand:
Theravada Buddhism: The form of Buddhism practiced in Thailand is Theravada Buddhism, which emphasizes the teachings of the Pali Canon (Tripitaka) as its primary scripture. Theravada Buddhism is known for its focus on individual enlightenment and the pursuit of Nirvana through ethical living, meditation, and insight.
Historical Background: Buddhism was introduced to the region that is now Thailand around the 3rd century BCE. Over time, it became deeply integrated into Thai society and culture. The Thai monarchy has historically played a role in patronizing and supporting Buddhism.
Monastic System: Monks (bhikkhus) hold a revered position in Thai society. Young Thai men often spend a period of time, ranging from a few weeks to several years, as novices in monasteries to gain merit and make a connection with the teachings of Buddhism. Becoming a monk is considered a highly meritorious act for Thai families, and many Thai men enter the monastic life at least temporarily.