Birthdays and temples
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Would normally have been driving mother over to take some flowers to his memorial but it was a bit far to go this year. As an alternative I paid a visit to the village temple. We are in the middle of Buddhist lent here at the moment and quite a few of the older village women sleep at the temple and spend most of their time there and it was busier than I expected. I will take some photos and post them here later when it has quietened down.
They are quite strange with their beliefs here. With little education they do not actually know anything about Buddhism. They give food to the monks each morning, or at least a few of them do. Unfortunately it seems to be only the older people who bother and in a couple of years time when they are no longer around it doesnt seem likely that a village such as this will be able to support the three monks that live at the temple at the moment.
They treat 'religion' as we tend to do in the west, as a convenience. When we need a baptism, marriage or funeral we all traipse off to the church but not too many visit on any other occasion. Same here although the blessing of a new house, business etc seems to the most popular employment for the monks.
Thery dont seem to understand what I see as the principle of giving. A little while ago Jai's son was with us early one morning when the moks were doing their rounds collecting alms. He said that he wanted to make an offering for good luck so Jai rushed out to the kitchen and got some rice and a couple of currant buns - a bit different for them. He knelt at the side of the road and offered them as the monks were passing. I tried to explain that the act of giving meant that it had to be you that gave and that in this case her son had given nothing. It would have been better for his 'karma' if he had given a small donation in coins or something, whatever he could afford himself, rather than getting someone to give on his behalf. This sort of thing happens a lot but I think that it defeats the meaning of giving - or perhaps that is just me being pedantic.