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Saybard

While in Luang Prabang, you may observe the morning alms giving ceremony where monks walk through town in single file carrying their alms bowls to give laypeople the opportunity to offer alms and gain merit. Offerings by people are usually comprised of sticky rice, fruit or simple traditional snacks. Known as Binthabard in Lao, this is a sacred religious ceremony. saybardTourists may participate and photograph the ceremony. However, the people of Luang Prabang, especially the monks, ask that this is done is a respectful way and visitors do everything they can to avoid disrupting this ancient tradition.

Important Information on Morning Alms Giving

The morning alms giving ceremony (in Lao: Saybard) is a living Buddhist tradition for the Lao people which, because of its beauty, has become a major tourist attraction, especially in Luang Prabang. However, when tourists are unaware of the customs associated with “Saybard”, their inappropriate behaviour can be disruptive. We would like to suggest how you can respect this meaningful religious practice.

 

How to respect the “saybard”

  • Observe the ritual in silence, and contribute an offering only if it’s meaningful for you and you can do so respectfully.
  • Buy rice offering at a local market, rather than from the street vendors along the monks’ route.
  • If you do not wish to make an offering, please keep an appropriate distance and behave respectfully. Do not get in the way of the monks’ procession or the believers’ offering.
  • Do not photograph the monks too closely, camera flashes are very disturbing for both monks and lay people.
  • Dress appropriately: shoulders, chests, breasts and legs should be covered.
  • Do not make any physical contact with monks.
  • Large buses are forbidden within the Luang Prabang World Heritage Site and extremely disturbing. Do not follow the procession on a bus – you will stand above the monks, which in Laos is disrespectful.