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Dana: What type of food do you give to monks? - Dhamma Wheel

Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

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Kabouterke
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Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby Kabouterke » Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:25 pm

Hi everyone. I've been trying a few Theravada temples out in my area recently and found one that I really like with an abbott that I really resonate with. This Saturday is going to be the temple's monthly alms giving Dana-session (specific Pali/Thai term?), where the laity can donate food to the monks.

Like I've said in other posts... I like my lists :tongue:
1. What do you give to monks?
It's obvious that it's got to be vegetarian and can't be too rich, but what is typically given? He said most lay followers just give fruit. But, I mean, they can't live off fruit alone.
2. And what do you put it in?
Do you just bring it in tupperware and dump it in his almsbowl, or do you just put the entire tupperware container in there?
3. Does it have to be served/prepared in any certain way? Cut up in a specific way?
4. Is there any particular ritual or gestures (in Thai Theravada) that you have to do when you actually give it to them?

I think my strategy is going to be to just to stand at the back of the line and do what the others do. :jumping: The abbot is a really great guy and I'm sure that he'd appreciate anything I gave him, but you know, you don't want to look culturally uninformed.

Thanks for your help!

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:19 pm

It would be best to ask one of the other lay Buddhists who give alms at that temple regularly.

A lot of western monks in the Thai Forest tradition are vegetarians, but most Asian monks are not. If you are vegetarian, then it is fine to donate vegetarian food, and fruit is probably the safest, as nearly everyone eats fruit.

However, only those with local knowledge will know what the temple gets too much of, and what is likely to be most appreciated.

It is also OK to ask the monks what kind of food is most suitable for them. Perhaps some are diabetic, or have other special needs?

Don't dump a plastic container into the bowl. Cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces, and present it on a plate, or put some into each monk's bowl.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Anagarika
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby Anagarika » Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:29 pm

My sense has been that Bhikkhus sometimes do not get enough protein in their diets. I have spent some time at Wat Metta (Thanissaro Bhikkhu) and note that the almsfood from the laity is varied; I have brought meat dana for preparation by the lay staff as I understood that Wat Metta does not proscribe meat. I don't buy red meat for myself, but so long as the Wat permits it, I want to be sure to provide dana that is meaningful and useful to the monks.

So, a chicken curry or other meat curry might be nice, and this tends to blend reasonably well in the alms bowl. Keep in mind that the food all goes into the bowl at once, so it's important to remember that 'liquidy' or mushy foods may not hold up well thrown in with fruit and salads.

If your Wat does not permit meat, then I might suggest a meat substitute like a tofu curry with potatoes, or a seitan meat dish. Some grains like quinoa also bolster proteins and can be part of a substantial salad or curry.

The monks for example, at Wat Metta eat only once a day, well before noon. Therefore, it is important that they get their necessary calories during this meal, as well as the needed vitamins and nutrients that come from proteins. Most lay people bring plenty of leafy salads and rice dishes...I'd go with the proteins.

dhammapal
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jun 16, 2013 2:35 pm

Hi Kabouterke,

I reckon brown rice is a good idea as monks don't seem to get much fiber in their diet.

With metta / dhammapal.






Kabouterke
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby Kabouterke » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:56 pm

Thanks everyone, good ideas. Is there any certain tradition (bowing, phrases) or something that you say/do when you give the food?

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lyndon taylor
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:18 pm

OK this is a subject I almost qualify as an expert on, having spent at least a year living at western Therevada temples as both a lay person, temple boy and monk(briefly) The monks start by saying prayers, with the lay people praying or joining in on the Pali chanting. Then the monks are presented the food, just present it the same way you see the Asians doing it. Unlike begging monks in Thailand, lay people cook their very finest best and tasty exotic dishes specially for the monks, to be honest with you you probably shouldnt try to make your own Southeast Asian dishes as you'd have to be a pretty good cook to compete with the natives, Fruit is OK but theres usually no shortage of it, believe it or not you couldn't really go wrong with vegeburgers, or even hamburgers(I'm a vegetarian so I would recommend vege) They will even eat fast food as a break from their everyday Asian food,' as the monks at the temple get very few opportunities to eat western food, they might really like to try vegeburgers and fries even, We had one guy bring donuts to the temple, he was my saviour, I was getting so burned out on Cambodian food. And don't be at all offended if the monks don't eat your food, after the monks are done eating everyone else sits around and eats what the monks didn't, at my temple this was a veritable feast, maybe 8 different dishes plus rice of restaurant quality Cambodian (or Thai ) food, all you can eat, with leftovers.

And yes the previous poster is right, you're not going to run into too many vegetarians in South East Asian culture. But the head monk might be.

But my point is it doesn't have to be vegeburgers, but some of the monks, maybe not all seemed to like it when someone brought western food to the temple as it didn't happen that often. I wouldn't bring them some cooked up entre of ?????? as they're not going to know what it is and trust it. Fried Chicken might be an option.

I've never been to Europe, so I can't guarantee this will work the same way it would here, but if it doesn't work, and no one eats your food, maybe next time try the fruit, or the Donuts, or pastries, I'm sure you have lots of them in Belgium!!

If your worried about the cost for 20EU in food for the monks, you'll get to participate in a 20EU restaurant quality meal with the lay people, at least thats how its worked at all the Thervada temples I attended, I've never seen them turn Buddhists away, or refuse to feed them. One last thing small bite taste test the food before you serve yourself a serving, you're presumably no going to like every dish they have and some, not all will be very spicy, so be forewarned.

And last you don't even have to bring food, but it would be seen as a friendly gesture, whether they like your food or not, also bring a small donation; the good southeast Asian inscense, the dark kind not the much cheaper yellow kind(it smells bad) a minimum of 3EU, and some small candles for the altar(try an asian market) these are traditional gifts, and by bringing what's traditional for Asians, it shows you have a sensitivity to their culture and customs, and they'll be more likely to accept you and be friendly, especially if you know to bow three times to the head monk(saying NAMO TATSAH PAQOUWATOE ARAHATOH SAMHAH SAMBUDDHASSA)not outloud or very quietly. And you need to pay attention to their sitting posture, you start out sitting kneeling on your feet, then sitting sideways with both your feet going to the left or the right, then finally when its too hard to sit that way, crossed legged. They are going to be a little bit suspicious of westerners coming to the temple, and making at least an attempt to do things traditionally will help them open up to you, because when they do you'll have friends for life. sincerely former monk John

Oh and don't point your feet towards the monks even when stretching, its a sign of disrespect.
Last edited by lyndon taylor on Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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lyndon taylor
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:42 pm

Just a correction to my post on temple etiquette, food etc. In going back and reading the OP's post its clear that I shouldn't assume a Therevada temple in Belgium is run just like a 99% Refuge Cambodian temple in Southern California. I was refering to the everday 11am lunch for the monks and lay people, at a local temple where all the people come from Asia, and things are run almost exactly like they are in Asia, so forgive me if your temple is more catering to Westerners, things might be very different than what I recommended, which is basically the best way to visit and bring food to my local Therevada Temple. Even in the case that your situation is very different to my temple, I hope my advice in part at least is of benefit to you or anyone else visiting a South East Asian tradition temple.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

alan
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby alan » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:31 pm

Best food is healthy food. This applies to Monks as well as everyone else.

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fivebells
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby fivebells » Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:18 pm

Is it inconsiderate to bring really tasty food which the monks will take delight in and may crave later? :)

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mikenz66
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:39 pm


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lyndon taylor
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:25 pm

18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Anagarika
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby Anagarika » Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:32 pm


alan
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby alan » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:21 pm

You're not dating the Monks, lyndon.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:50 pm

Please see the section on "Two Kinds of Donation," in my booklet, , which is based on the Venerable Ledi Sayādaw's Manual of Donation (dānādidīpanī).

The duty of the donor is to maximise his/her benefits from giving alms, by giving well and reflecting wisely.

The duty of the recipient (the monk), is the reflect wisely on the use of requisites.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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puppha
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby puppha » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:19 pm

Hi Kabouterke,

Just my 2p worth. I live in the UK, and I noticed that lay people do their best to prepare the finest food for monks, and that tend to be quite rich food with a lot of fat and sugar.
Initially, I was also preparing nice food, like lasagna, etc. But after a while I decided to prepare salads or vegetables. There will always be tasty rich food from other lay people, so the monks will have the choice. At least, I know I offered some healthy options!

With Metta

Kabouterke
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Re: Dana: What type of food do you give to monks?

Postby Kabouterke » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:14 pm

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!


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