© 2014 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved.
Buddhist monks are a common sight in the streets of Yangon (Rangoon), but also in any other part of Burma or other Buddhist country. Burmese families send at least one of their children to the monastery, to receive a Buddhist education.
Every morning, the monks leave the monastery and go out on the streets to ‘beg’ for food. Not the same kind of begging we often see in other parts of the world. When they walk down the street, sometimes in one long single row, people call the monks to their houses to provide them with all kinds of food. Burmese people are willing to help, mostly by giving rice, but also fruit and vegetables (except those containing fertile seeds) and bread or cake. This food is brought back to the monastery where it is shared among all the monks.
Lay people can donated the four requisites as a practical way of expressing generosity and appreciation of their faith in belonging to the Buddhist community. Besides food, these requisites are clothing, shelter and medicines. The monks respond to these donations by sharing merit and spreading good will and the teachings of the Buddha.
The special dress of the monks, the robes, comes from the idea of wearing cheap clothes just to protect the body from weather and climate. Monks often make their own robes from cloth that is donated to them. The colour of the ropes differs from one country to another. In Burma, monks generally wear red robes.
An ordained monk is called bhikkhu. It literally means ‘beggar’ or ‘one who lives by alms’. A monk is allowed to collect, receive and consume food between dawn and midday. He is not allowed to consume food outside of this time and he is also not allowed to store food overnight. Plain water can be taken at any time without having to be offered. Although a monk lives on whatever is offered, vegetarianism is encouraged. He is not allowed to cure or cook food, except in particular circumstances.
I made this photo because I saw a certain resemblance between the bhikkhu and the beetle. Both were ‘wearing’ the same red color, with an ‘accent’ over the left shoulder (or left side of the car). And just as the monk’s shaved head, the roof of the beetle was ‘smooth’ and ‘shining’ in the morning sun.