Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Traditional Tak Bat in Pakse

Monks gather in front of Wat Luang, one of the larger Buddhist temples in Pakse, before the morning tak bat. 

I got up early on my first morning in southern Laos to explore the city. Pakse is a nice little town on the Mekong River. It's the gateway to Laos' coffee growing region and the 4,000 Islands, on the southern edge of Laos, close the Cambodian border. 

The monks from Wat Luang go out very early every morning for a tradition tak bat, or alms gathering. People come out of their homes and present the monks with rice and other necessities. It's a form of merit making for the Buddhist faithful. 
A woman waits for the monks to come to her. 

The tak bat in Pakse is still very traditional. I've photographed the tak bat in Luang Prabang several times and up there it's become a tourist spectacle. To the point that there aren't very many Lao people participating anymore. Most of the people waiting to give rice to the monks in Luang Prabang are tourists. 
Monks line up to get alms from a resident in Pakse. 

Several groups of monks went out from Wat Luang. There were 15 - 20 monks in each group. They walked silently and barefoot through the city. Not everybody gives to the monks everyday, on some streets there were only one or two people (usually women) waiting to give alms to the monks. Interestingly, to me, women kneel on a mat they put on the ground while men stand. 
Monks walk past a house in Pakse. 

Women drop balls of cooked rice into the monks' alms bowls. 

There were not many people out the morning I walked with the monks. It was a very relaxing way to start the day though and I ritual I never tire of seeing. 

There are more photos from Pakse in my archive and available from ZUMA Press.
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