I met a young man who was just about to becoming a monk when I was walking around a temple in Vientiane. A 29 year old man named Tony was busy setting up his ceremony, but noticed me and invited me to join his important ritual. Cool! It was a great experience for me.
According to some data, about 90% of people in Laos are Buddhists. They are very faithful and most of men in Laos become a monk at least once in a lifetime. The period varies from about a week to several years.
Becoming a monk means accumulating good deeds and a way of expressing their devotions to their parents in Laos. I thought that staying in a temple is harsh for young people who are accustomed to the modern life style. However, as long as I know, they seem to be very happy and proud of themselves.
In cities like Vientiane, the period is relatively short and Tony said that he was staying in the temple for a week. However, people in older generation used to spend more time. In rural areas, it’s even longer and some of them spend several years. Temples used to be nursing homes and schools as well and children from poor families grew up there with enough food and good education.
Tony had his hair cut and changed his clothes from T-shirts to the white attire for the ceremony while his family members were decorating his closet with ornaments and offerings. Food for a feast was already ready. Tony and his leading monk moved forward just in front the main Buddha statue.
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