Today was Ork Punsa at our local temple Wat Greensboro, also known as Greensboro Buddhist Center, but tomorrow is the day that marks the conclusion of the Rains retreat. The tradition of Buddhist Lent or the annual three-month Rains Retreat known in Laos and Thailand as Punsa, which dated back to the early Buddhism in ancient India, this is the time where monks spent three months of the annual rainy season in permanent dwellings. This is to avoid unnecessary traveling during the period when crops were still new for fear they might accidentally step on young plants. According to our sermon today, in the ancient time, the Lord Buddha left earth for 3 months to visit his mother up in heaven, he wanted to show his gratitude by chanting for her during this Lent period, and the day of Ork Punsa was the day that he returned to earth, and all the people came to greet him. It is also considered inauspicious to get married or move house during the Lent period, but after Ork Punsa, the calendar is open for weddings.
As I’ve mentioned before, according to our Buddhist belief, Tuk Badt or Alms giving is believed by many that it’s a Boun (merit making) 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.
Today’s Alms giving is called Tuk Badt Tayvo, its an old Thai tradition of Alms giving where the Buddhist worshipers would lineup and the monks come by to collect Alms, I’m not sure if it’s called the same in Lao. This made me think of the time that we lived in Kamphangphet, Thailand, we would Tuk Badt Tayvo with rice grains, and dried foods that way it would not get spoiled because there were long lines of Buddhist worshipers and hundreds of monks collecting Alms, it’s a beautiful sight to witness and to take part in the ceremony.