Thailand is the home of many Buddhists as you can see from the many temples throughout our country. You will also see the Buddhist monks walking along the road sometimes, especially early in the morning. This is normal because they are performing tak bat for the people.
What is Tak Bat?
Tak bat is a ritual performed by monks for hundreds of years for spiritual redemption and is a symbiotic relationship between the monks and the Buddhist people.
Each day, early in the morning between 5:30 am to 8:30 am, the monks will leave the temple and walk the streets and roads to meet the people who are “alms-givers”. Each monk carries a large bat bowl attached with a strap that is over the monk’s shoulder. This bowl is used to accept anything from the people, as a monk is unable to “take” from anyone.
The alms-givers will sit or kneel at the edge of the street while the monk comes to accept the gifts. The alms givers will place their items into the bowl and pray while the monk gives a blessing to that person. The monk will then move along the street to the next person and continue until all of the alms-givers are gone.
Monks accept this food to eat every day. They will also bring the food back to the temple to share with the other monks.
The act of giving to the monks is called “making merit”, which can be done in various ways in Buddhism, but tak bat is the most common. At the temples, Buddhist can also release birds from cages in order to make merit. They may also take fish or turtles from the market and release them back into the river at the temple or a park where people cannot fish so they will live free again. Many times we will donate money or materials for the repair or building of a temple or monastery. Many people will also donate blood regularly at the hospital to make merit.
What do you offer to the monks?
You can give many different things for tak bat usually, it will be cooked food, cooked rice, bottles of water or milk, dry noodles or other instant food and fruits. We also give flowers like a lotus but must be a group of three, a bunch of orchids or flower wreaths that Thai people make at markets or on the street.
What to do during tak bat
If you see a monk performing tak bat, please try to not interrupt them. You are free to participate with the proper intentions as to not disrespect the monk or the Buddhist people. Here are a few rules to follow regarding Buddhist traditions:
If you are going to make an offering, please wear clothes that cover your body in order to respect the monk.
If you want to take a picture, take it from a far enough distance, and do not use a flash. It breaks the monks’ concentration, detracts, and is disrespectful.
Keep a respectful distance from the monks when they are performing their duties.
Do not touch the monks. Please do not try to shake their hand or hug them.
When do you tak bat?
Tak bat is performed every day, but there are special events that can happen when the town or a business invites the monks. During these events, the monks will sit, side by side, in front of the people and perform a blessing. Holidays and festivals mark special days where you may see many monks performing tak bat. Here are special days that many Thais will go to tak bat or make merit.
- Vesak (Buddha day) (in Thailand, Visakha Bucha day)
- Magha Puja day (in Thailand, Makha Bucha day)
- Asalha Puja day (in Thailand, Asanha Bucha day)
- Thailand Mother’s day
- Thailand Father’s day
- New Year
Seeing monks performing tak bat is a common sight in Thailand. I like to make merit and give to the monks food and get the blessing. Next time you come to Thailand and see the monks with their bowl, you will understand tak bat!
♥♥♥ Namfon ♥♥♥