Buddhist monks in Bagan

Throughout Myanmar, early morning is the time to see monks collecting food and donations for the day.

Just after dawn we visited a Bagan monastery to ask permission to take pictures of the monks preparing for their morning walk.

This was a particularly large monastery and the monks separated into two groups of approximately thirty each, to cover different parts of the town. Our group walked to the township, while the other went by bus to a remote location.  In this assembly of young and old monks, there was a sense of anticipation in the air.  For some of the younger monks, there was even quiet levity and excitement.

Soon enough though everyone settled down. After a solemn prayer they fell into line and walked briskly into town.

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I say ‘briskly’ because it was pretty much impossible for us to keep pace and take pictures.  We had to hustle into our car a couple times and drive ahead to position ourselves.

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Along the roadside, residents set up serving stations in front of their homes and businesses.  Here they offer cooked food, money or treats.  On this day,  most people served cooked rice and curry but  I’ve seen them also include sundry items like laundry soap and treats like snack crackers and cakes.

As you can imagine, the weight of the collection gets heavy after a few visits. Our guide told us that for this monastery, a car  follows the route allowing them to periodically deposit their collection before proceeding.  An advantage I think, of belonging to large monastery.

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Once the route is completed the monks head back to the monastery where they’ll have the first of only two meals for the day.

Bagan, Myanmar. December 2016

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