December 20, 2008

281206 Wat Saen - viharn

From top to bottom, Wat Saen Soukharam in Tham script, Lao script, & English:


The viharn as seen from the corner where the Buddha statue of the erstwhile Wat Pha Chao now stands:


On the right is a smaller, simpler building used by monks as a meeting hall:


Once a fortnight, on the 1st & 15th days of the lunar calendar (new moon & full moon, or wan sin nyai), full monks gather for the recitation of the bhikkhu patimokkha, known to laymen as the 227 rules for Theravada monks (Tibetan monks have 253 rules, & there is also a bhikkhuni patimokkha with 311 rules for Theravada nuns & as many as 380 for Mahisasaka nuns). The patimokkha is found in the Vinaya Pitaka, the section of the Tripitaka (Buddhist canon of scriptures) concerning the discipline of monks & nuns, & the Lao & Thai word for 'discipline' (winai) comes from the word Vinaya.

During these sessions, monks confess to one another if they have broken any of the rules. The patimokkha recitation thus requires a quorum of four monks, but quite a few temples in Luang Prabang have fewer than four resident monks. This is overcome by having all monks in town assemble at two centrally-located temples in the morning for combined recitations, & one of the venues is Wat Saen.


Not the Lao national football team:


At the time of the cat's first visit, the abbot of Wat Saen was the most respected Venerable Pha Khamchan Virajitta Mahathera, the chief monk of the northern provinces of Laos. Seven months later, he passed away. On the cat's second visit almost two years later, the urn-shaped wooden structure used to cover his casket during his funeral ceremony was sitting outside the side door of the viharn:


Beneath the roof of the verandah:


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