Luang Prabang is an UNESCO World Heritage city, but also a small Laos town trying desperately to hold onto its traditional culture within a developing region. One aspect of local culture that tourists can visit and take part in, is the early morning alms giving ceremony.
Each morning, as the sunrises, 200 or so Buddhist monks will descend from the 33 local Wats (temples) to collect their daily alms.
This is an age old tradition that dates back to the 14th century when this tradition was introduced, and involves the local people rising early, preparing food and making offerings to the monks.
Not only is this one of the ways for Buddhists to make merits, it is also the only food that the monks are permitted to eat for the day and is therefore a very important ritual.
Tourists are currently welcome to be involved in the Alms Giving Ceremony, although we ask our travellers to please be aware of the routine of this ritual and to respect the closely observed etiquette.
Some points to be aware of are:
Laos is a spiritual country and some people do feel compelled and interested to get involved in this ceremony as a way of experiencing the local culture. However, it is important to remember that this is a local tradition and not a tourist activity. Be respectful and enjoy the spiritual side of this peaceful ceremony and your presence there can then be beneficial to both sides.
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