The 9th Alms Giving Ceremony of Southern Thailand
Tuesday 16 March 2010, by
Students of International Buddhist College (IBC), monks as well as lay people, participated in the 9th Alms Giving Ceremony of Southern Thailand, organized by Dhammakaya, in collaboration with Tourism Authority. About 10,000 monks and hundreds & thousands of people of southern Thailand participated in this ceremony. It was a majestic sight of an unending shaven heads with serene looks and thousands of enthusiastic & generous lay people with basket full of Alms. The event took place in the city of Hat Yai, the third largest city of Thailand in the Songkhla Province.
Dana or Donation is an important concept in Buddhism. It is normally said that Dana not only helps to accumulate Merit, which is the cause for happiness of many things in the future, it also helps to cut through grasping to Self or Atman. So, people and devotees are always encouraged to help other sentient beings and give them whatever they can to make them happy and comfortable. Normally, any Dana performed to Masters, Monasteries and Monks, are considered the best, as it gives more merit.
Two buses left the IBC premise as early as 5:30 pm in the morning and reached the heart of Hat Yai, the venue of the event, around 6 pm. The place was full of monks and lay devotees with plastic bags, baskets and handful of different objects for Dana. Upon arrival, the monk students of IBC were directed to their allocated seats.
Ceremony started with different Chantings in Pali. The Chief Guest lighted the candle and the Incense as a symbolic commencement of the ceremony. Lay as well as Monks renewed their vows and refuge to Triple Gems & 5 precepts. This was followed by a Welcome Speech by a dignitary of Hat Yai and Tourism Authority, which had jointly collaborated to organize this event along with Dhammakaya. The Head Monk appointed for the ceremony gave a spiritual sermon followed by the first round of Alms giving by some Honored Guests of the ceremony. On the occasion of Birthday of Queen Mother, which coincidentally fell in the same week, the merit was transferred to her.
After the official proceedings of the ceremony, the main event of the ceremony began – Monks lined up with their begging bowls in their hand, and the lay devotees started to offer the Dana to monks. It was a spectacular sight, as many colors and people of different backgrounds intermingled, once again declaring the universal theme of fraternity, love and respect.
This offering continued for almost two hours. Thousands of kilos of alms were offered to the Monks by the lay devotees. The ceremony ended around 9:30 am and IBC students returned back to their college.
Some lay students of IBC said that such events are always important to understand many aspects of Buddha Dharma and Thai Culture.
Reported by Mr. Bibek Sharma, photos credited to Ven. Jointu and IBC students