Location: Luang Prabang and Vientiane, Laos. Chiang Mai, Lampang and Lamphun, northern Thailand. Time: July 2011 – Rainy season, Buddhist Lent.
This year, the beginning of Buddhist Lent fell on Jul7 15, 2011. In Luang Prabang in Laos, a procession of monks in saffron robes marked the official start of the rainy season. The Buddhist Lent, or “Phansa“, is the period when all Buddhist monks retreat to the temples. This is also an auspicious time for Buddhist ordinations as it marks a period of spiritual renewal.
Khao Phansa is a time devoted to study and meditation. Buddhist monks remain within the temple grounds and are not supposed to venture out for a period of three months starting from the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month (in July) to the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eleventh lunar month (in October). In former times, this was done to prevent monks from trampling upon rice paddies when they went out to receive offerings from the villagers.
Be enchanted by the sight of hundreds of monks in saffron coloured robes walking down the street during the daily Tak Bat (morning offerings), but do be aware of local customs of observing the ritual in silence, dressing appropriately and not getting too close to the monks).