So Pavarana Day is coming up, and I have a couple of questions:
I go to a Sri Lankan vihara here in my hometown, and I've started to establish a relationship with the abbot there. He was kind enough to give me the pañcasila, and he's done a lot to encourage me and make me feel welcome. Besides offering almsfood and practicing hard, I want to show him and the other bhikkhus that I'm serious about being involved in the community, and that I sincerely want to learn.
A very dedicated friend of mine asked our bhante about it, and told me that laypeople are welcome to spend the entire day at the vihara (we can't spend the night there.) I would really love to do this, but I'm curious...is it common for laypeople in Sri Lanka or other Theravadin countries to spend most of these full-moon days in or around the temple, if possible? Other than requesting the atthasila, what do they generally do during their time there? Should I expect the monks to be available for Dhamma talks and question-and-answer? Is this the time to request instruction in specific aspects of my practice -- the intricacies of puja, meditation techniques, chants for memorization and recitation? Is it common for laypeople to just sit around the temple absorbed in meditation?
Also, is there anything I should know about traditional etiquette? Would it be seen as a sign of respect if I showed up wearing all white, for instance? Would this be a particularly appropriate time to bring food?
I hope that none of this seems odd or presumptuous. I promise that all I really want is to get the most out of this opportunity as I can...I feel deeply that my personal practice, the bhikkhus who support it, and the Dhamma that guides and inspires it all deserve my respect and true, sincere effort.
Thanks in advance, sahadhammikas!