Luang Prabang Temples and Monks


Luang Prabang Temples and Monks



Luang Prabang in Laos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are a number of temples found throughout the entire town. When you visit Luang Prabang, you are bound to see the local monks all over town area. To my knowledge, there are about 29 temples or Wats in the entire Luang Prabang region which dates back to the 12th century. Formally called Muang Sawa in the Lane Xang Kingdom, the city's name was changed to Luang Prabang when they received a Golden Prabang (Buddha) from Sri Lanka.

Monk relaxing by a tree

Luang Prabang also has about 1,200 monks and temple life for the monks here in Luang Prabang are very simple and laid back. Monks go about their daily chores and every morning, there is the Morning Alms Giving procession which goes on at the main streets around 6am. It is here that one can witness the alms giving where locals would line parts of the street kneeling down to give the monks food. Luang Prabang is also known as a Mecca for Theravada Buddhism, also known as Hinayama Buddhism.

Monks doing woodwork at one of the temples

At one of the local temples I visited, monks are trained to do skilled work as I noticed a number of them working on wood carving classes. Looking closely, these monks were making the hand of Buddha which was carved out from a piece of wood. The workmanship is amazing on looking closely.

Monks doing wood carvings of Buddha

At another section of the temple, a monk was making a statue of Buddha from wood. Apparently, all these items made by the students monks are then sold off to locals or tourist as the temple had a small shop that sold the works of the monks. If you explore the famous Luang Prabang Night Market, you will see some of these similar items being sold here as well.

Junior monk doing a Buddha sketch

Before entering the temple shop that sold the craft work, I saw a child monk who was doing a freehand sketch of a Buddha Image. It was here that the younger monks learned about pencil sketching and also free hand painting of various images based on the Buddha teachings. The finished sketches and paintings were also available for sale in the shop for a few dollars each.

Monk sweeping the temple grounds

While walking around Luang Prabang town, you are free to walk in to the temple grounds. Sometimes you see the monks busy doing chores like sweeping or cleaning the temple grounds in the late peaceful afternoons.

Monk relaxing at one of the temples

At of the the main temples called Wat Siphoutthabat, all the novice monks from Luang Prabang got to school at this Wat. Surprisingly enough, besides learning Dharma, Pali and Snaskrit Languages, the monks are also taught math and English. I experienced this with one of the junior monks at one of the temples where he casually approached me and asked me where I am from. It was in that good command of English which he spoke that I was totally shocked. We had a decent conversation whileI explained why I visited Laos.

Writer posing with some monks in Luang Prabang

During November to March, the weather gets really cooling and since I visited in February, it was about 14 degrees Celsius. I had two layers of clothes on while the monks just had their orange robes on. At one of the temples, I encountered a group of teenage monks hanging around a fireplace to warm up where I politely asked them if I could have a photo with them. It is best to ask before taking pictures there.

Of the temples found in Luang Prabang, below is the list and names;
  1. Wat Xieng Thong - Contains the cremated remains of King Sisavang Vong
  2. Wat Wisunarat
  3. Wat Aham
  4. Wat Mai
  5. Wat Sop
  6. Wat Saen
  7. Wat Khili
  8. Wat Paa Khaa
  9. Wat Paa Huak
  10. Wat Paa Phai
  11. Wat Phan Luang
  12. Wat Tao Hai
  13. Wat Visoun
  14. Wat Aphai
  15. Wat Manorom
  16. Wat Pakkhan
  17. Wat Thammo
  18. Wat Xieng Muan
  19. Wat Xieng Thong
  20. Wat Chum Khong
  21. Wat Pha Baat Tai
  22. Wat Tham Phu Si
  23. Wat Pha Mahathat
  24. Wat Siphoutthabat - School for all monks in Luang Prabang
  25. Wat Sirimungkhun
  26. Wat Si Bun Heuang
  27. Wat Nong Sikhunmeuang
  28. Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham
  29. Wat Chomsi

Best time to visit Luang Prabang
  • Between October and March
  • May till October - Rainy Season
  • March till May - Temperature of 90 to 100 degrees F
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Website for Luang Prabang

My other Laos and Luang Prabang blog postings:


Luang Prabang Town Part 1
Whisky Village in Luang Prabang
Pak Ou Buddha Caves in Luang Prabang
Phu Si Hill in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Night Market
Wat Xieng Thong Temple
Lao Airlines

Talat Sao Morning Market in Vientiane
Food in Vientiane
Patuxai Arch in Vientiane
That Luang Stupa (Golden Stupa) in Vientiane
Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) in Vientiane


~ David Jr
Luang Prabang Temples and Monks Luang Prabang Temples and Monks Reviewed by David Jr on Friday, November 06, 2009 Rating: 5

6 comments:

Henry LeE ® said...

Really an eye opening that the monks are taught maths and english... they do realized that this two subjects are very important to catch up with the world's education. Impressive~

shloke said...

Another wonderful write-up!

The drawings and the carvings are beautiful!

14°C in Asia? That's COOL!

Cheers!
mylo

David Jr said...

Henry, I was shocked myself to know that the monks were learning math and English. At least they are.

Mylo, thank you. The temperature was fantastic fr me, especially when we come from a tropical country.

Regards,
David

Tony Wan said...

Wwow, monks do such works one ? A lil bit shocked LOL

Anonymous said...

David Jr., awesome blog and glad to hear you had a wonderful experienced in Luangprabang. Majority of all those novice monks came from villages near Luangprabang and by being a monk is the only way for them to get free education. Where most of their families can't afford to send them to regular school. Thanks for sharing and love reading your blogs.

David Jr said...

Tony, at least they're doing something productive there. I admire them for that.

Seeharhed, thank you very much for the kind words and you are absolutely right about the monks. After all, Laos is the poorest country in the entire Indochina, but now for long as they are advancing pretty much. Laos Games around the corner too.

David

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