What kind of expectation do people have when they Tum Boun? What does Boun look like? Where does Boun go?In addition, how does Boun get there?It’d be a lot easier to see if Boun has physical appearance, and we can actually see that it gets to where we intent for it to go, this is the part that faith comes into play.We all have faith that when we Tum Boun, the Boun would some how get to that person, whether it’s for yourself, your love one, passed love one, or generally given to all living creatures (dead or alive) and wandering spirits.Just because we Tum Boun, doesn’t mean that it’ll go to those that I’ve just mentioned above, there has to be a messenger that deliver the Boun and many times we’d hear it in the chanting of offering of Boun; which is to ask the person to come and receive the Boun, and for some unknown reason as to why that person can’t come, then we’d invite Tavarda (angel from above), and Ma Jour Tor Ra Nee (mother earth from below) to deliver a message to that person (mention name) to come and receive the Boun.Some of us might remember the ceremony of water pouring called Yord Nom. Have you ever wondered why we’ve to pour the water while the monks were chanting and after that, we’d pour the water outside, normally to a huge tree or bush.This is a way to communicate with Ma Jour Tor Ra Nee (mother earth) because when we pour the water on to earth, we’d ask her to deliver the message of Boun to our passed love ones, make sure you mention name(s), very important, so they can come and receive their Boun.
Therefore, that’s how the Boun gets to your passed love ones, when you Tum Boun 100 Vanh, but if you don’t offer it to anyone, then it’s mainly for yourself, and some people when they Tum Boun, they actually want the Boun for themselves, let us just say, still have greed for Boun. If your passed love ones are at a stage that they can’t come to receive their Boun, whether it’s because they’re up above in heaven at the stage of Ni Phan (nirvana, no longer suffering) , or reincarnated into another life form, then what would happen to the Boun?Where will it go? In a situation such as this, then the Boun would come back to the offered, which is nice to know that it’s not a waste. As a Buddhist, it’s good to Tum Boun in the form of Tuk Badt, it’s believed by many that it’s a Boun of life, that they’ll live a long and healthy life; which technically speaking, by Tuk Badt, they’re offering foods to the monks to sustain their livelihoods.
The money tree looks beautiful, and NO, money doesn’t grow on tree at our house, if it does at yours, please let me know, the soil must be extremely rich.The money tree is called Tonh Ga La Pirk, we’d commonly seen at home that Tum Boun; this would give friends and families the opportunity to Tum Boun with the host; offering their money by hanging it on the tree.The tree is then offered as part of the donation to the temple(s), which I think is a nice gesture, and what amount you’re offering is up to you. Some people believe that if you Tum Boun with someone, then maybe you’ll see them again in your next life, and of course, this is a common belief among Buddhists.
Tuk Badt is another task that we’ve commonly seen in Boun 100 Vanh, or other Boun events. Some might ask if it’s a requirement for Boun 100 Vanh, the answer is no; Tuk Badt is another form of Tum Boun and offering to our passed love ones, using the monks as the median.Back in Laos, it is required daily task for monks to go and Bin Ta Badt (morning alms), and have to walk bare feet, which seems cruel, but that’s one of the many sacrifices that they made when vowed into monkshood, to give up of material possessions.It warms my heart to see people offering foods to the monks by Tuk Badt (morning alms), of course everyone have their own reasoning as to why they are doing it.Some might Tuk Badt because they don’t want the monks to have to worry about their next meal, their time should be utilized in teaching Tum Mah (Buddhist religion), which I think it’s a very good idea.Some might Tum Boun for themselves, to increase their Karma, which after Tuk Badt, the monks would normally give blessing. Others are less selfish and would Tum Boun for their passed love ones, or Jour Gum Nye Vain (animals that we ate, asking for forgiveness), then the monks would perform a mini ceremony, and this is when you’d pour water called Goud Nom Pra Maid Ta to mother earth so she can tell your passed love ones, or Jour Gum Nye Vain to come and receive their Boun.Since isn’t convenient for monks to Bin Ta Badt (morning alms) in the US, or other foreign countries because our Lao community is so scattered, most people then would incorporate Tuk Badt when ever they Tum Boun, whether it’s Boun 100 Vanh, or Buddha House Blessing.At my mom Boun 100 Vanh, we also had Tuk Badt. If you Tum Boun and invite more than 5 monks, it’s called Sunka Tarn, which is considered a mega Boun event, at my mom Boun 100 Vanh; we had 6 monks, as Cathy would say ‘We did her HONOR.’If you are going to Tum Boun, aim high and shoot for Sunka Tarn, in our case, we just got lucky.
Prah Gun Taid (offering of money for the monk sermon in a bowl) is another that we’ve had seen in any Boun, and Boun 100 Vanh is no exception. When we’re offering money for this, we’re Tum Boun for knowledge, the offered believe that they’ll become smarter either in this life, if not, I guess settle for next life, let us just say it’s a wishful thinking. As for me, I’m just hoping for knowledge for this life, more or less understanding the current sermon was all I’m asking. One of the sermons was about finding the truth; people would search high and low to find the true meaning of life, and happiness. No need to search further, we don’t need to look far, just look inside, look at oneself; you have the answer, if you’re happy with yourself, that’s your answer, but first you have to understand yourself. I think it’s a very simple concept but most people can’t get this because they live in a material world and think that material possessions will make them happy, life long quest for happiness, sad but true.
Just because we Tum Boun 100 Vanh for our passed love ones, doesn’t mean that Tum Boun has to end there. Some people would Tum Boun every year, and call it Buddha House Blessing. If it’s not convenient to do it at home, then many people find that a temple is a better place to Tum Boun, it’s called Sunka Tarn, and can be done more than once a year. Any types of Boun, including Boun 100 Vanh is a part of our Buddhist tradition, it is something that we should preserve and pass down to younger generations, and I hope that this will give you a better understanding as to why we Tum Boun, especially Boun 100 Vanh.
[…] To be continued here. […]
wow…you did a great job explaining all of this. i did not know the reasons why a lot of these traditions happen. i know my dad would be so proud right now because i actually understand it now and from you. its kind of sad that he tried and tried my whole life to teach me these things, and it was only until the past few years that i cared enough to take notice and now i need to find other resources to learn this from ,when i had it in front of me the whole time. when you reach a certain age, you realize that you won’t always be young, and your parents aren’t going to be around forever (its so obvious, but being young sometimes does not equal being smart =p)
i know my dad had a lot of boun and as you said about your mom is alway with you, i love it that you said that.
again thanks for sharing, you write really well and this a great piece of our cultural that many people can learn from.
Hi Kay, I’m glad that it has helped you to understand our Lao tradition of Boun 100 Vanh, I learned the hard way. There’s almost no information on the internet in regarding to this topic, more or less just mentioned of the term and that’s about it. I asked monks from different temples, actually about 4 temples that I visited, I think one monk is afraid of me because I’d ask odd stuff, especially when it comes to ghost and spirit. Sometimes when he sees me at a Boun, he’d smile and ask, ‘you’ve more question about ghost for me?’, and said it real loud too, people would look at me somewhat funny.
Most of us don’t read about this until we have the need to know, and that’s one great thing about the Internet is the search engine, people can easily find me if they’re looking for anything that’s related to Laos, or Thailand.
I know your dad is very proud of you, take care. 🙂
Pretty good explanation. Preserve that cultural heriatge, it’s withering away very quickly here in the USA.
Nye, this is so true:
“No need to search further, we don’t need to look far, just look inside, look at oneself; you have the answer, if you’re happy with yourself, that’s your answer, but first you have to understand yourself.”
It reminds me of the lines from a song by my other favorite band, The Alarm. Quote:
“Its in the hearts its in the soul
Look no further than your own backyard
Live your life as it should be lived
Follow your heart for the truth is everlasting”
[…] brought their children along, I guess just like my sister and I, we went with my dad. I wrote about Tum Boun in the past, and this is part of […]
Great job. You’re such a good resource for people who are curious about Lao culture and what goes on. I’m really proud to have someone out there like you curious, interested and documenting what you’ve learned. I say keep up the amazing work. As a Laotian American born in American myself I can honestly say it is very hard to find almost anything about Laotian culture on the internet and the ones I always run into are from you. Oddly enough though I’m probably the only one my age that was born here who is well studied in the Laotian culture. At a young age I grew such a large interest for our culture and I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised but nonetheless I have always sought out knowledge and share the knowledge I learn. Unfortunately without very detailed research you’ll come to realize that sometimes elders and even monks are not the most reliable resource. Even some of their beliefs are knowledge are just false, made up information or misinformed. Their so use to doing without questioning it back in Laos but for us who are born here I think there is a bigger desire to understand it and the meaning of it.
One reason I think you had a very very tough time finding out about the origins and beliefs of the 100 day but was able to find out what 100 day meant in Thai culture is because the true reason is Lao people don’t have a tradition of 100 vanh. Although some think it comes from generations of Lao culture it’s probably as newer than Lao people landing in the USA. It is definitely a Thai tradition that was practice and the more Thai people became neighbors the more they’d share their culture with each other. Most of the 100 day that is done by Lao people are usually done by us here in the US that live amongst Thai people. Yes there are many families in Laos that have also adopted the tradition of 100 vanh but there are still a lot that don’t practice it at all and have never seen it. But all in all as I always say creating boun and being reminded to create boun whether it be 100 days, a year or when ever it’s all boun and it’s all good so adopting a tradition that is not our own for a reason to create boun is a great thing.
I really do love your blog though. You’re definitely able to give very informative information on what you’d commonly hear if you were to ask these questions to your elders or people just amongst the community. But like I’ve said before I’d be careful when it comes to using that as your source because sometimes it’s not always right and sometimes what is practice in Lao culture isn’t always Buddhist and what is Buddhist is not always practice by Laotian. I’m not saying I know everything but with the years of research I’ve done I think I have a pretty good amount of information with both sides (Buddhist and Lao culture) so if there’s ever questions you’d like to shoot me I’ll always try my best to answer them for you. Because if it’s something you’re trying to figure out, either I am too or I was at one point.
Thanks Thip for your kind words. After I wrote this post, my aunt that lived in Paksan Laos passed away, they also did boun 100 vanh for her. I think Lao in Laos are adopting this merit event more and more. This doesn’t surprise me since the majority of Lao living in Laos watch Thai TV, and also listen to Thai radio stations and not surprise that they would share a similar belief. I’ll keep you in mind the next time I have a question about our culture, and thanks for your visit.
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