The Buddhist lent ( Boun Khao Phansa ) started yesterday with increasing numbers of Lao young people nationwide set to attend the important Buddhist ceremonies to make merit at their local temples.

Uncle Orkard who works taking care of Simeuang temple in Vientiane, the number has increased though his observation compared to the same day last year.

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Mr Orkard said it is currently summer holidays for students so they have plenty of free time, while parents are an important factor when it comes to encouraging young people to present offerings to the monks in the temples.

He observed that the increasing numbers of young people is a good sign to lead the youth to learn their national culture and conserve local traditions. Listening to the monks’ moral teachings may help them to learn what they should or shouldn’t do when going about their daily lives.

“I feel good and my mind is clear and calm when I attend the temple,” said Ton, who joined his friends for an a lmsgiving ceremony for Buddhist lent, expressing his sentiments while holding a bowl of offerings.

Ton often follows his parents to make merit by visiting the local temples and presenting offerings to the monks if he gets the chance.

“I do believe in good things; if you act well it will be returned in positive ways. For example, if you do bad things or are addicted to drugs, no good people will want to be associated with you,” Ton reflect ed.

He agreed that community elders should encourage young people to attend local temples on the important Buddhist days such as Boun Khao Phansa . He said that among the youth, those that don’t attend the temples often refrain because they are shy, feeling that temples are a place for older people.

Each year on Boun Khao Phansa , believers get up early to take their buckets with offerings and a couple of large candles to go the temple at seven in the morning.

These offerings w ill provide convenience for the monks and novices during their three months of studying the teachings of the Buddha, meditating, and leading a disciplined existence to observe the Buddhist precepts.

At 8 am, senior monks in local temples give five commitments to lay people to encourage them to observe the teachings of the Buddha, make merit and give a blessing.

After that believers are allowed to give alms directly to the monks, before they sprinkle holy water from small bottles to ask Ngamae Thorani (a woman spirit living under the earth), telling people’ s departed relatives to come to receive their offerings.

Buddhist lent was established to force monks and novices to stay at their monasteries to study the teachings of the Buddha, keep the precepts, meditate and maintain their commitments throughout the rainy season.

During lent monks and novices are prohibited from travelling except in certain circumstances where specific urgent matters are provided for in the scripture, in which case they will be allowed only seven days leave.

Monks and novices also won’t be allowed to become lay people during lent while ordinary Lao people do not get married during this period as they believe they won’t achieve success in their family life and their marriage will not stand the test of time.

Source: Vientiane Times
Published on July 12, 2014