Walking With Monks
Thabarwa Center | Yangon, Myanmar
Alms are not mandatory, but nearly everyone we passed gave something and they did it with pride. We collected rice, scrambled eggs, half a papaya, a melon, steamed veggies, soup, cabbage, a bag of oranges, soap, money, and a million other foods that I could not recognize.
It was impressive, the stopping power these monks had, there were multiple times throughout our hour-long walk that people jumped out of their cars and scooters to give a bit of whatever they had on them.
As the procession concluded and we approached the bus, which had been filled with all the donations, I started to reflect. My feet were sore, and I was certain I had stepped on glass and yet, all I felt was warmth — that type of warmth that you feel when you start to fall in love.
It was a sunny Saturday morning when we began our walk. School children lead the way chanting, announcing the arrival of the monks, their faces covered in tanka - a Burmese sunscreen.
15 feet behind them was a straight line of monks all perfectly dressed in their maroon robes chanting, “Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu”.
Women, children, and entire families started to emerge from their homes and line the streets, bringing with them an alms. Now I’ll admit, I didn’t know what almsgiving was up until I arrived in Myanmar so I don’t expect you to either. The short story is this, everyday monks go out and collect ‘alms’ or donations from local villages. The monks then use what they collect to support themselves and the communities that they serve.