Walking Beside the Monks

Walking Beside the Laotian Monks

One Buddhist morning with the Laotian Monks.

The colour of the air is infused with orange and pomegranate. And still, it is before dawn. Nothing can be heard except for the quiet barefoot steps of two dozen monks dressed in deep orange robes. And the morning song ( a strong word for this sound ) of the early birds – the roosters. The field with buffalos, the trees and the Buddhist monks in front of me – they are all silhouettes against the colourful sky.

The hour is 6am and the place is somewhere in the Laos countryside.
No coffee, croissant and fresh mango juice for me this morning. I will survive without them, just because I feel that this early morning is a gift to me, a reward for traveling this far. Being a part of the world before the new day has bloomed in light, sounds and even more colours.

Walking beside the Laotian Monks.

Although I believe that life hasn’t started before the sun has decided to show it’s beauty and glamour, the whole village is already awake. And they are prepared. I am slowly walking beside the monks, accompanied them on the traditional alms giving ceremony. Every single day, at an early hour they are making their way from the forest temple to the nearby village. The local people are expecting them, quietly and respectfully standing on their knees on the side of the road. In front of each of them – the straw basket filled with delicious, steaming sticky rice. When I look at these people I can’t help but ask myself – are they waiting for the monks, or for the first shimmering rays of the sun. Or maybe the monks are these golden rays, being as quiet and bright in their orange robes.

I can’t believe how many people are standing there in a tiny village like this. And I guess that in this moment the whole population has gathered – women, men, old and younger. Children. The dogs and cats, they are all there because they know that this is a special moment of their day.

Laotian Monks Doing Good

There is something so enchanting and pure in these moments of respect to Buddhism — the songs of the monks before accepting rice from each line of lay people, then the sudden silence after the chanting followed by the tinkling of their rice bowls while each of the alm-givers offers rice. The gesture the laypeople do by bringing the rice basket to their forehead before giving a peace of the sticky rice is very significant part of the alms offering ceremony.

There is no god in this ritual , no praying. Just reverence from Lao people for Lao people, from Buddhists for their Buddhist teachers. The scene I witnessed was an example of something which can be seen everywhere in Laos – the people’s kindness and goodwill and their practice of Buddhism in the everyday life.

Written by: Maria Jelyazkova

Maria Maria is a full-time traveller and a believer in everyday miracles. She enjoys drinking tea, doing yoga headstands and exploring the narrow, little streets of a town she doesn’t know. Travelling through South East Asia on an old motorbike, she tries to learn about the people, their traditions and culture and to dive as deep as possible into the local life.

Photo Credits:

All photos by Maria Jelyazkova

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