Scenes of Sangha in alms round processions rarely observed in urban area

Aungchant sskm

Once, people in individuals came out from their home and cleared debris in the streets. It was a significant scene of the morning of a day on a weekly basis.
At the same time, kitchens from every house were run with cooking and food processing. Some families had completed their cooking process last night.
At 8 am, small tables were displayed along the roadside in front of each residence. Warm and delicious meals dedicating to the alms for members of the Sangha were ready to be donated while well-wishers were waiting for members of the Sangha from alms round procession.
Now, they came to the streets.
A layperson shouted, “Hello all well-wishers! Members of the Sangha from Thabawa meditation centre in Thanlyin Township of Yangon Region come here to accept alms donations. Members of the Sangha led by the abbot of Dhamma Alinyaung Monastery in Mingaladon Township come here to accept day meals donations. Members of the Sangha from Linlunbin Buddhist Learning Centre of Sangyoung Township are coming here to accept alms from well-wishers. Members of the Sangha from Salin Monastery in Kyimyindine Township arrive here to accept dawn alms.” Just a few minutes later, members of the Sangha in alms round procession came into the streets. For the time being, all well-wishers happily donated alms to all members of the Sangha from the procession. It was a cliché scene in the public residential wards.
Currently, the lifestyle of city dwellers in Yangon has already changed. Their daily routines are so different from that of people from single houses in the public residential wards. Moreover, donations for the alms round procession of members of the Sangha are gradually disappearing in city Yangon.
“Most of the people residing at apartments are very busy for their relevant jobs from the morning to the evening. In fact, their generosity does not fade out. Restricted timetables for their jobs become a root cause to be absent for donating alms to members of the Sangha. Some people make donations in other arenas as they are absent in donating members of the Sangha from the alms round procession. In fact, the tradition of alms donation gradually disappears in Yangon,” U Khin Aung Myint from South Okkalapa Township, a retired staff of the Industry Ministry, remarked.
The scene on members of the Sangha from the alms round procession to accept alms donated by each family is a lovely one of Myanmar. Such a fine tradition of alms round processions can be seen in countryside till today. The images of members of the Sangha go alms round procession at dawn in some towns where Buddhist Learning Centres are established. It can be said that such a meritorious act is a fine tradition of Myanmar people to be handed down to posterities.
“Buddhist monks from Thabawa meditation centre go alms round procession to relevant residences on regular timetables. Some monasteries dispatch monks in individuals for accepting alms. Generally, most of the members of the Sangha face difficulties of alms. Thabawa meditation centre accommodates a large number of laypersons, members of the Sangha, nuns and Yogis, some of who are suffering from ailing. Every night, I have a chance to view the discussions of the abbot from the centre on sufficiency of meals and alms through social network page of the centre. So, it pushes me to make more donations,” said Daw Aye Win from Thingangyun Township.
At present, donations of meals and alms decline and quality of alms was low due to high prices of commodities.
“In the past, we had separately cooked meals as alms for members of the Sangha. Then, we cooked all meals for our family including alms for members of the Sangha. Currently, as duck egg is priced at K300 and a small bundle of water convolvulus K500, number of meat and fish meals declines due to family incomes. Whenever meals are not attractive, we cannot be satisfied with donating them to members of the Sangha. Some days, we unavoidably refuse to donate alms to monks,” Daw San Kyi from Dagon Myothit (Seikkan) Township recounted her experiences.
As the civilization with apartment residence is booming, although some monks and novices step up to the apartments to accept alms donations, such a number of monks does not increase similar to that of single housings. As such, local communities set up alms donation teams in their relevant residences for the sake of Buddhist monks to overcome difficulties of alms during and after the Buddhist Lent. Weekly alms donations of the residences are contributed by people to ease alms difficulties of some monasteries.
“In fact, only when well-wishers make donations can Buddhist monks consume alms. If people make meritorious deeds, members of the Sangha can accept donations. Some well-wishers from residential wards send alms to monasteries on schedules. When they do not make donations, we have to cook meals for alms at the monasteries,” said an abbot from South Okkalapa Township.
Many novices and members of the Sangha from some monasteries in suburban areas of Yangon go alms round processions to relevant public residences at dawn and in the morning and some of them are dispatched by car to accept alms donations.
“The monastery from the public residential ward arranges the monks in alms round processions at 9:30 am every day. Similar procession is arranged by Thabawa meditation centre on Thursday. On these days, we cook meals with surplus for them. In the past we donated meat and fish meals to the monks in processions from Thabawa meditation centre but we change the type of donations with vegetable meals for consumption of all people from the centre,” Aunty Cho from South Okkalapa Township clarified.
Whatever it may be, Myanmar Buddhist people still donate alms with generosity to members of the Sangha in alms round processions along the streets amid challenges of high prices of commodities.
Translated.

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