MONKS BEGGING One morning we arose very early to watch the monks go on their “begging” rounds to obtain the sticky rice that would feed them at noon and again the next morning. It was a drizzly day but the monks in three separate groups in the area where we observed came down the street swinging their begging bowls as they passed the townspeople lining the street. The monks presented the bowls and the lay folk filled them with sticky rice. The custom in Lao, unlike that in Bhutan, is that monks eat only two meals a day—one before dawn and the other before noon. They then fast until the next morning. Even the young monks must adhere to this seemingly cruel discipline for young growing boys. The monks in their yellow- orange robes and bright umbrellas made a colorful parade but even this scene in Luang Prabang was dispiriting, rather than demonstrative of a meaningful devotion.
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