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Holy Buddhist Lent marks a fine time to take a break from drinking alcohol

Many people around the country have made a plan to stop drinking alcohol during the Buddhist Lent period and they believe it will help them to be healthier, happier, and save money as well.

Each year, when the Lent comes many drinkers put a lot of effort into trying to stop, or at least reduce, drinking wine, beer, whiskey and other alcoholic beverages for many reasons but mainly they want to stay far away from intoxicants for some of the time during the Lent period.

Buddhist devotees present candles, robes and other offerings at Simeuang temple in Sisattanak district, Vientiane.

This year, many people especially the drinkers are eagerly looking forward to this auspicious event and are planning to detox.

Some people, especially those who have many friends who are drinkers, are encouraged to make a group of friends who stop drinking so that nobody asks each other to drink in Lent.

Many families tend to enjoy practising this important observance too because without drinking family life tends to be more peaceful and happier.

Stopping drinking during the Lent is not a fashion, but it seems to get more popular year- by-year among drinkers.

Stop drinking is not easy and it doesn't mean that everyone who sets a goal to stop drinking can really complete this task, because there are many attractions that encourage them to return to drinking during the Lent, such as friends who don't set a goal of stopping drinking and surrounding people will ask and encourage him to drink at any time. Some people can stop only a few days or a few weeks, and some people can only stop drinking for one or two months depending on the person concerned.

Of course, there are many social events and celebrations which always attract a drinker.

So it is quite hard for someone who is not strong enough to control himself to stop drinking, but it is very important and meaningful for that person who can really do it over the three months of Lent because it means that he can complete such a big mission.

Mr Teung, a resident in Sisattanak district in Vientiane, who is planning to stop drinking during this Lent period said that it is very good to stop drinking because it can make him healthier and save more money.

“I am planning to stop drinking. I will start to stop drinking tomorrow (Sunday). I am not really a drinker and so I only occasionally drink. But I have many friends who are drinkers. Fortunately, many of them will stop drinking too. I am very happy about this because there will be less friends who will ask and encourage me to go drink with them,” he said.

“I'm sure that stopping drinking alcohol for some time will help me relax and have more time for work and my family.”

“This is not my first time to stop drinking in the Lent but I did many times already. It is not too difficult and it depends on our strong decision not to drink. If we really want to stop drinking we must strongly refuse the requests of friends and surrounding people, who like to ask us to drink with them.”

“Previously, I stopped drinking during the Lent and I felt that it helped a lot to make me stay healthy. It made me, my family and my relatives all very happy. I also could save money and had time to do other activities too. The most important was that it kept me stay far away from intoxicants and was in a safer place somehow.”

Monk Somchith of Haisok temple in Chanthabouly district said that Buddhist Lent is a very important and meaningful time because it is believed to be a holy period and the right time for doing good deeds and earning more merit.

“I think people should try to do better things than the year before, particularly they should stop drinking alcohol and stay far away from discouragement because not drinking alcohol will make us healthier and happier both physically and mentally,” monk Somchith said.

“They can also save more money and have more time for practicing good morals and to be virtuous.”

“I think everyone, especially young people and students, should use their free time wisely during Buddhist Lent. If more people were to do good deeds, it would help our society to be more peaceful and happier.”

Today is the day of the Buddhist Lent festival, or in Lao ‘Boun Khaophansa,' and Lao people nationwide go to the temple nearby their home in order to make merit.

There are many things to do such as giving alms in the morning, presenting offerings including saffron robes, candle, etc. during the day.

At the night, they will make a candle-lit procession in order to honour and worship the Buddha, his teaching and his followers.

Buddhist Lent or as it is called in Lao ‘Khao Phansa' is the annual three-month rains retreat, and it is also an important religious event in Laos.

Buddhist Lent or Khao Phansa is a period of three lunar months during the rainy season when monks are required to remain in one particular place or Vat (temple).

Monks recite their vows to themselves in the evening after prayer on the day after festival day.

Khao Phansa day falls on the first day after the full moon of the eighth lunar month and marks the beginning of the three-month Buddhist ‘lent' period.

This year it falls on July 9, earlier than last year which came on July 20.

Meanwhile Buddhist Lent Festival or Boun Khao Phansa is held on the full-moon day (this year it falls on July 8, today), the day before Buddhist Lent Day, it is a celebration day on which devoted Buddhists make merit such as giving alms and offerings to monks within the temples.

During Lent, monks and novices have to practice all routines and principles over the whole period of three months.

These include waking up early in the morning to pray at 4am daily, longer meditation, and more learning and teaching more of teachings of the Buddha.

Meanwhile laypeople are making more merit by offering things, and some people set a goal to reduce bad influences and doing more good as well as doing their best to remain sober.



By Visith Teppalath
(Latest Update July 8, 2017 )

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