Text by Vincent Lee. Photographs by Gan Jia Cheng.
Devotees and volunteers mindfully went about their duties, smiling and serene, preparing for the Pindacāra (alms-round) on the morning of Saturday, 15 June. Upon arrival at the Seri Kembangan market, a team of Nalandians set up the information counter and hanged buntings, while another team set off to spread the news and engage the public in a genial and friendly manner.
The sight of the three monks walking in a single file, dignified as they went about the alms-round, was a sight to behold. Some who were having their breakfast stopped to watch. Several market-goers were approaching the monks to offer alms-food, the vendors were also taking part in making their offerings, and neighbours were talking to each other, wondering what was going on and how they can contribute. There was a positive buzz all around us, and the response was warm and encouraging.
I recalled an unforgettable experience from the first Pindacāra that was held at this same market two months ago. We were on the alms-round, making our way through the crowd, and I heard a voice, calling out for us to wait. He appeared to be in his 60s, and was carrying a plastic bag with fruits and bread. He beckoned the young teenage girl who was with him to place the food into the alms-bowl. I cordially said, “Thank you”, but was struck speechless when he replied, “Thank you? I should be the one thanking you! Without Nalanda, my girl here would have no chance of attending free tuition classes!”
This innocent but impactful exchange reminded me once again of the meaningful service we are engaging in, reaching out to the community in different ways, and how the lives that are touched by the Buddha-Dhamma are so much more enriched. Sadhu anumodana to all Nalandian volunteers who ceaselessly and selflessly contribute for the welfare of many; your efforts do make a big difference to the community.