Pindacāra, the practice of collecting alms-food, is observed by Theravada Buddhist monks who have gone forth from ‘home-life’ to ‘homelessness’. A Buddhist monk is known in Pāli Language as a ‘bhikkhu’ – meaning ‘one who lives on alms’.
In Buddhist countries such as Thailand and Myanmar, it is a daily ritual for monks to go on Pindacāra, where they walk through a village from one household to another, allowing devotees to make food offerings.
With Pindacāra, Buddhist monks need not worry about food and this afford them time to ponder and practise the Dhamma. Since the time of the Buddha, lay people have been supporting monks this way with food, robes, shelter and medicine. In return, monks provide guidance to the laity on Buddhist teachings, thus forging a close, respectful, and symbiotic relationship between the two communities.
A Theravada Buddhist monk only consumes food between the break of dawn (around 7am in Kuala Lumpur) and noon (12pm). Thus, he does not go about collecting alms-food after mid-day. The monk goes on Pindacāra mindfully observing ‘noble silence’. He does not engage in talking or chatting with others.
The monk’s alms-bowl is only used to receive cooked food offered by willing donors. The monk strictly does not accept money with his bowl or on his alms-round.
Offering alms-food to monks allow lay people to acquire merits as a result of their kind intentions and actions. Doing good deeds daily is a way of self-cultivation and to live a noble way of life. The proper way for the laity to offer alms is to perform it joyfully, mindfully, and respectfully towards the monk(s).
Amidst the hustle and bustle of modern living, it is most joyful and inspiring to still be able to witness this ancient tradition of Pindacāra being practised, what more to participate in it!
Nalanda Buddhist Society organises monthly Pindacāra at the morning markets in Taman Overseas Union Garden (O.U.G.) and in Seri Kembangan. Members of the public are welcome and encouraged to participate in this meritorious and joyful activity.
Below are some helpful information for donors and participants :