In December, we woke up about 6am and headed to town for the Processions of 10,000 monks. As the name would suggestion, the event features 10,000 plus monks who walk down the street and receive alms from the attendees.
We arrived to parking lots packed with scooters and the street barricaded for the event. If there were 10,000 monks there, then there were easily double that for attendees. We passed the barricades and saw vendors selling care-packages for the monks. As we had arrived empty-handed, we bought some care-packages which consisted of instant noodles, cereal, water and coffee packets. (This would not be the last of the general “garbage” food distributed to the monks. I would later be amused by the woman distributing sticks of sugar but then again, here, sugar is a necessity.)
The street was lined with people to either side of the long “carpet” that ran down the middle of the road. It was striped red and white and the monks would soon be walking on the red strips. The white strips would be for the attendants with large bags for the monks to distribute the alms they had received from their bowls into.
After a few hours of chanting, the monks appeared walking down the carpet, about 8am. That began the sea of orange robes worn by monks of all ages from the older disciples to the young initiates. It also began the monk’s version of a house of cards as they balanced more and more items in their bowls until they could reach an attendant to dump the items and begin again. I saw a man with a bag of eggs that I was very curious how he was going to distribute but didn’t get to see. The typical items were more instant noodles, coffee, or other packaged food. After watching the sea of monks pass for a bit, I finally moved into position to give my measly offerings before we headed out.
It was definitely worth waking up for and should I ever be in Chiang Mai again for it, I’ll be sure we actually bring the battery for the SLR camera.