Merit Making Traditions During the Buddhist Lent

The tradition of Buddhist Lent or the annual three-month Rains Retreat known in Thai and Lao as Khao Pansa marks the beginning of the three month Buddhist ‘Lent‘. Laypeople provide monasteries with stacks of new robes for Lent monks, since during the Lent period monks are restricted to their monasteries for a prolonged period of spiritual retreat. Ordinary people are also expected to be rather more religious during this time, marriages do not take place and it is inauspicious to move house. This is a good time for young men to temporarily enter the monastery. (source)

As for our local temple, Wat Greensboro or Greensboro Buddhist Center, we’ve Buddhist service and Alms Giving every Sunday during the Rains Retreat. Our Wat (Temple) is looking to expand the Sala Hong Tham (worship hall) and we’ve the opportunity to broadcast part of the sermon on TV, I think it is going to be on NatSat TV.

Some Buddhist worshipers were there to Tum Boun (merit making) for their passed loved ones, the deceased names were written on a white piece of paper, then burned during the ceremony.

Lee Wai to pay respect during the ceremony.

Some pay respect by the big Buddha.

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Education That Works

Have you ever wondered why there are so many young novice monks in Laos, especially in Luang Prabang? Our Buddhist faith in Laos is not as strict as the Myanmar, where it’s their tradition that every Myanmar Buddhist boy average age between 7 and 13 is expected to enter the monastery as a novice for a period of a few weeks to months, it’s considered to be the most important day in the boy’s life.

But in Laos, we don’t have a tradition like that, but yet we see many young novice monks at the local temples. Back in the olden days, temples were the schools, especially if you’re poor, as there was no formal education system. This makes sense because the Buddha is a teacher, and monks provide basic lesson in both spiritual and secular subjects, and for some, this might be the only way to get an education, not just in the olden days, but also in today society.

During my visit to Laos and Thailand, after we got stranded at Suvarnabhumi Airport, we went back to Vientiane Laos to catch our flight back home, and we stayed at a hotel that’s not too far from Wat Mixay. I didn’t get to take a picture of the entrance, and this is a borrowed photo from here.


My dad and I passed the temple gate, and saw school children playing in the temple ground and thought that the school must be nearby. We visited the temple and that’s when I realized that the school is at the temple, kind of surprised me at first because I didn’t expect to see this at all. The children are very happy.

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