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Feb 22 2013

Novice Monks In Laos

I can’t believe it’s Foto Friday again.  How time flies!  So what have I got for you this week?  Well, when I was in Luang Prabang, I saw the largest concentration of Buddhist monks I have ever seen.

While I was wandering around the town one day with a fellow independent traveller, we got chatting to a monk who invited us to a prayer service later that day.  We graciously accepted, turned up at the agreed time and sat at the back listening to them singing.  It was so enjoyable.

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During the service, I couldn’t help but focus on two novice monks at the back of the group.  As you can see from the photograph, they were chatting away, deep in conversation, and not paying much attention to the service.

I probably ought to clarify that a novice monk is not a monk but a young boy who has temporarily committed to this life.  It’s usual in Laos for young boys up to the age of 20 to spend some time as a novice monk.  It doesn’t mean they have to become one permanently.  Monks are highly respected in Laos so parents actively encourage their sons to spend some time as a novice monk.  During this time, they study at school, learn about Buddhism and discipline, and live a pure life free from alcohol, drugs, women etc.  From the age of 20, they have the option, like the one I spoke to, of making a long-term commitment to the monkhood.

If you happen to be in Luang Prabang, it’s worth attending a prayer service and taking the time to speak to some of the novice monks or monks you will come across.  It’s really interesting to find out about their life, why they are there and their future plans.


This is where Luang Prabang is located:

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Have your say

Have you attended a Buddhist prayer service in Luang Prabang and chatted to any of the monks?  I’d love to hear about it if you have! 🙂

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