Alms giving is one of the most common practices among Buddhists. It’s a way to support the monks, who study and practice the Buddha’s teachings, by offering them food. At the same time, we learn to give and to let go.

Alms are first offered to the Buddha in a separate bowl, and are placed on a separate table on which the relic casket, containing a bone-relic of the Buddha, has been set. All the items of food are served in plates and placed on mats or low tables before the seated monks. A senior monk administers the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts¬† to the assembled gathering, as this has become the established custom with which any Buddhist function commences. After he has given a short address on the significance of the occasion, the food is formally presented by getting the chief householder to repeat a Pali statement: imam bhikkham saparikkharam bhikkhusanghassa dema (“These alms, along with other requisites, we offer to the whole community of monks”). Next, the food is served and once the monks have finished eating (which should be before noon) the other requisites (parikkhara), referred to in the statement quoted, are also offered.

The most important item among these offerings is what is traditionally known as “the eight monastic requisites” (ata-pirikara): the alms-bowl, three robes, belt, razor, water-strainer, and sewing needle. This offering is regarded as especially meritorious. As it is an expensive item and therefore difficult to offer to all the monks, generally one ata-pirikara is offered to the chief monk and other items such as books, towels, pillow-cases, umbrellas, etc., are presented to the other monks.¬† who just give alms to monks,

Once this is over, another monk administers what is called punnanumodana or “thanks-giving” wherein all those who were connected with the ceremony are requested to partake of the merits (punna) for their future good. The participants are also called upon to transfer the merits they have thus acquired for the well-being of their dead kinsmen and friends as well as for the sustenance of beings in the deva worlds, i.e., the deities, who are expected to protect the donors out of gratitude. The relic casket and the monks are conducted back to the temple in the same manner as they were brought and the proceedings are concluded

The participant can share this offering with deceased family members and ancestors and pass merits (pin) to them

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