Daily Life in Cambodia

Buddhist Monks: Begging

Buddhism is the state religion of Cambodia and the Buddhist monks are an important institution in the culture. They are greatly respected and they serve as the safety net in a society without social security, welfare programs, and insurance. Each morning the monks spread out through the city begging food and alms for themselves and for all the people they serve.

Woman giving alms to a monkJust as more women than men attend Christian churches so more women give alms to the monks making their daily rounds.

Man praying before a monkPeople normally put rice or other food into the monk's begging bowl or money into his bag, and then make a silent prayer.

Woman giving alms to a monkWomen are not allowed to touch monks, and vice versa. The monks always extend their begging bowl to receive alms so that there is no physical contact.

Young man giving alms It is quite common to see older people giving alms to the monks but it is not unusual to see younger men and women contributing also.

Woman giving alms to a monkOne reason more women are seen giving alms is that the monks are begging in the neighborhoods where houses and shops are combined, and the women are at home with the children while the men may be away at another place of work.

Man giving alms to a monkUsually the monks will chant a prayer for the people who have given alms before they move on along their rounds in the neighborhoods.


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3 February 2012