Monday, September 12, 2011

Buddha Lent in Muang La

The alms procession for Buddha Lent at the temple in Muang La.
We were pretty excited to learn that today is Buddha Lent in Laos. Lucky for us, we were still in Muang La this morning and got to participate in all the ceremonies at one of the holiest temples in the country. We started by praying and making wishes to the sacred Buddha in the temple. We then went outside for the alms procession. During the procession women must get down on their knees and not make eye contact with the monks. Men are allowed to stand and look at the monks, but Mo decided to get on his knees with me. :) You then give the monks offerings of cookies, sticky rice, and money. The monks then go into the temple and bless all the people that made offerings.
We could not believe how warm and welcoming the Muang La locals were towards us. They were so friendly and helpful. Some old ladies came up to us at the end of the ceremony and shared their cookies and wished us good health and safe travels. They also told us they had never seen a westerner at the temple before and were proud to share their culture with us. I know I've said this many times on this trip, but participating in Buddha Lent was one of the coolest things we've ever done.

Getting ready to start making our offerings to the 23 monks. I had to wear a traditional Lao skirt.

Once a year on Buddha Lent there are huge boat races on the Mekong River. We stopped to check them out on the way to Luang Prabang. Everyone just watches the races, drinks, dances, and has a good time.

We are now in the city of Luang Prabang. We are excited to explore for the next 3 days and cannot believe it is almost time to go home!