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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Food from Nature, Bamboo shoots

When I visited my neighbor’s nursery bed last week, I saw that the bamboo shoot is in season, this is what I called foods from nature, and it’s free from any type of pesticide, and really FREE because they are grown in the forest back in Laos.  But in the US, those that have big land would grow it themselves, but the idea of growing bamboo in our yard can create a problem, they’re hard to tame and we’ve all heard the term bamboo running a muck before.

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I knew that there are bamboo trees at the temple, it’s located in the back garden, I’ve roamed the temple ground many times last year taking pictures of the Buddhist monk’s garden.  Mae Tou Gaisorn asked us to help her count the money tree, and said that the bamboo shoots are coming out, that the monk wanted them removed, and she’d take us back there to get it. This is one way to tame the bamboo from spreading, the shoots if not removed would become bamboo trees.  The monk planted about 2 or 3 bamboo trees 10 years ago, and now it’s a forest. When we were living in Laos, my mom would go into the forest to harvest the bamboo shoots, and the ones that you’ve to walk pass the cemetery, most people are afraid of ghost so there were plenty and she’d bring my sisters along, this was before I was born.

Look at all these bamboo shoots…

Bamboo shoot Bamboo shoots

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Buddhist Monk Garden

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I had a chance to visit my local Wat (temple) again yesterday, and my favorite place is the garden.  This portion of the garden is in the back, and this temple has 3 gardens, one in front of Gouti (living quarter for monks) that is an herbal garden, another one near the Sala Houng Tum (worship hall) and Gouti that has all kinds of vegetables, and this one is in the wooded area towards the back of  Wat property.  I like the design of this back garden, it’s very natural looking as one of the entrances has vines of vegetation growing, giving that secrete garden look.

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The string beans are planted to blend in with the natural setting, and other vegetables that grow on stakes just climb up as high as ever.

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There are all kinds of animal back here, this one is trapped in a cage appears to be a groundhog, the monk kept saying “gow hok” and I couldn’t figure out what he was saying.  He asked me if they didn’t teach me in school of what a gow hok is, and I said I must have not paid attention to the teacher if they did, but when I got there it was a groundhog.  This is the fifth one that they caught in a trap, and he will take this one for a joy ride and release it where it can’t come back to the garden again.  I’m wondering if it’s the same one, might not have took it far enough.

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Wat ground is also a place where young people gather and play sports, also a social gathering place where many hang out.

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