Mass Alms Offering Ceremony to Celebrate the King's Birthday

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Mass Takbat
Chiang Mai's trendy Nimanahemin Road became a sea of orange yesterday morning (6th Dec) as 100,000 people gathered for a historic mass takbat alms offering ceremony involving 11,250 monks. This is the first time so many monks came together from 16 Northern Thailand provinces for such a ceremony, held in honour of HM the King.

Takbat ceremonies normally happen every morning, but not to such a large scale. Monks generally do not cook or grow foods at the wats or temples, and rely on food offered to them by devotees during the morning rounds. Monks walk, heads slightly bowed in contemplation and barefooted, along a certain route near their temples, carrying a bowl ("Bat"). People making offerings will take their shoes off, kneel down on the side of the road, patiently waiting for the monks to come by.
A young monk in deep contemplation.
As the monks approached, food is placed into their bowls while a short prayer is said by the believer and the monks respond by chanting a short blessing.

Today's ceremony was slightly different. With 11,250 monks, the event was well organised. The people of Chiang Mai gathers before dawn, and sat down in rows on the side and the middle of the road while waiting for the ceremony to begin with prayers and chanting for the King. It was also announced that some of the food donated eg. uncooked rice, would be sent down to the temples in the Southern Provinces.

After the prayers and chanting, the monks then ceremoniously walked down the road and took up their positions in front of the believers.
Participants waiting their turn at a mass Takbat ceremony.
The takbat was going to be done in unison.

The chantings before the ceremony were very beautiful and peaceful. You can't help but reflect on your life and hopes for the future. When the monks started to walk down the main road, it was quite a sight! Hope you enjoy the photos!

In case you're wondering what sort of food is being offered to the monks, normally, people would offer fresh food - things like rice and curries pre-packaged in plastic bags. Today, though, most people sensibly offered dried food - lots of instant noodles, uncooked rice, bottled water, soft drinks and potato chips!

I would encourage you, when you visit Chiang Mai, to observe, or even participate in Takbat ceremonies, which occurs every morning, albeit on a much smaller scale. It's a unique opportunity to experience a very special part of Thai culture, and you'll feel great knowing you did your good deed for the day.
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Mass Takbat
Mass Takbat
A young monk in deep contemplation.
A young monk in deep contemplation.
Participants  waiting their turn a…
Participants waiting their turn …
Mass Takbat
Mass Takbat
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes