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ตักบาตร or "TAK BAT" means giving alms to monks.
Monks are going out for alms everyday around 5 AM to 6 AM, except during the 3 months'
rainy season (July to october). They carry their bowl with both hands and close
to the belly.
The monks walk in straight line one by one. The oldest one or the
temple abbot leads the monks. The other one follows by seniority age spent in Buddhist community.
Thai women, kneeling, or Thai men, standing, put food inside the monk's bowl.
The women cannot touch the monks or his belongings.
As a city, district or village can contain several Buddhist temples,
the abbots agree together on the path reserved for each temple.
The monks do not thank for the food as they give opportunity for the laypeople to
do good deeds and earn merits.
Going out for alms is called "BIN THA BAT"
Alms bowl (บาตร) is the monk's emblem.
According to Buddhist rules, it is the only dish that monks can possess.
Traditionaly, the housewife or her youngest daughter are waiting
in front of the house. They greet the monks through a "WAI" (ไหว้)
and put food inside the bowl.
The monk shall not look at the women, neither thank them. No words are said.
If a young novice receives food from his mother, he can bless her.
The monks walk bare foot and shall accept any food given to them.
If the bowl is full, the monk puts the lid (ฝาบาตร)
on it in order that laypeople can put a few last food offerings on the lid.
Traditionaly, rice offered shall be recently cooked rice.
People also offer curry dishes, sweets, fruits, flowers, incense sticks...
Food offered shall always be the best. Giving good allows receiving
good deeds and merits.
Then back to the pagoda, the monks share the received food
inside the Buddhist community.
People, who just gave alms to monks, can share this offering with deceased ancestors
through a small ceremony called "KRUAT NAM" (กรวดน้ำ).
This libation allows giving merits to defunct ancestors. Water is put
inside the cooking pot and pour down slowly on the right hand forefinger to the soil. So merits go down
from the cooking pot through the hand to the earth. The Earth deity
"MAE THORANI" (แม่ธรณี) shall give the merits to
the right ancestors.
Traditionaly, if a monk bowl falls in front of a house, it is seen as a bad omen.
Some Thai people give alms everyday but some give alms on specific events only such as
Buddhist holy days ("WAN PHRA" - วันพระ),
birthday and so on... On such occasion, they can request a blessing from the monks.