Sunday, December 1, 2019

Almsgiving Preparations - 2019

Long time readers of my blog know that I hold an almsgiving, every year, in December, when I invite the Buddhist monks from the Temple to my home and offer them lunch and other donations.  The one year when I failed to do so was in 2016, when I fainted from dehydration (although I didn't know that was the cause at the time) in the bathroom and hit my head on the edge of the bathtub/shower door track, two days prior to the almsgiving, and didn't feel up to doing all the work involved.  This year, I am making sure I stay well hydrated!

I have exactly one week left to prepare for the almsgiving, scheduled for Sunday, December 8.  Time to review my checklist and schedule!  There is only so much I can do ahead of time, but, I am going to try to do as much as I can to prepare ahead of time.  My daughter will not be here to help me with the almsgiving, this year, although friend R has said she will come and help, as she usually does.

I have a master list of things I do to prepare for the event and I firmly believe that list keeps me focused and enables me to do everything in an organized manner!

So far, I have accomplished the following:

- Set the date/invited the monks/invited the participants
- Confirmed the date with the monks
- Made a tentative menu
- Shopped for non-perishable groceries
- Cooked and frozen the cashew curry
- Cooked and frozen the garbanzo beans
- Cooked the dhal - will cool it in the fridge, overnight, then freeze.

Still to do:

- Check supplies (non-grocery)/shop for items needed
- Go to the bank/Get donations ready
- Call and remind the invitees
- Clean the house
- Rearrange furniture to set up the seating area in the living room (M will help on Friday)
- Take down dishes used only for almsgiving and wash them
- Take out serving dishes, basins used for washing hands, serving spoons, etc.
- Take out plates, bowls, etc. for guests
- Make the grocery shopping list
- Grocery shop for perishables

Saturday, Dec. 7:
- Pick up friend R
- Any last minute grocery shopping
- Put out frozen items to thaw (might do that Friday night)
- Cook the rice sticks
- Make the soup
- Make the garbanzo/edamame/carrot salad
- Set out items needed for the transfer of merit: teapot, cup, and water basin; fill teapot with water
- Set out candles/incense sticks & holder; lighter/matches
- Set out new bottle of water for blessing; bowl to catch drips when blessed water is poured out
- Set out items for washing hands: fresh cake of soap, hand towels, jugs & basins

Sunday, Dec. 8 (day of almsgiving):
- Cover chairs, tables
- Arrange flowers in vases
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers; cover
- Arrange a variety of sweets in saucers; cover
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt)
- Cook rice (2 types - white and red)
- Make salads
- Warm up soup and curries; dish out into smaller serving dishes for serving to monks; bigger serving dishes for guests
- Serve up offerings to the Buddha and offerings for the Order of Monks
- Boil water and keep warm for those monks who prefer hot water
- Pour water and juice into glasses

10:30 a.m. - Everything should be done and ready; guests arrive and their contributions, if any, are added to offerings to the Buddha and the Order of Monks

11:00 a.m. - Monks arrive; Offerings to Buddha, Order of Monks, etc. take place and service begins with devotions being recited.

11:30 a.m. - Lunch is served to the monks; I will ask one of my friends to help dish out the yogurt and puddings

12:00 noon - Monks finish their lunch (they are prohibited from eating after noon), plates are cleared, a sermon is said, blessings are chanted, merit gained from almsgiving is transferred to departed loved ones, donations are offered to the monks.

1:00 p.m. - the religious ceremonies are concluded, the monks leave, lunch is served to all those who participated.

Followed by washing up and cleaning and putting things away until the next time!   My family and friends usually help me with the washing up and putting away the food and putting the furniture back in place.

It's a lot of work, but I will try to pace myself and do as much as I can in advance.   Friend R has promised to come early on Saturday morning to help, but, I need to be prepared in case she is unable to do so. 

Do you do anything similar to an almsgiving?


  1. That is do nice! I haven't heard about something like this before, sounds beautiful☺

    1. It is one of the ways we cultivate non-attachment to material things, cultivate generosity and the spirit of giving, and to share the merits we accrue through our actions to our departed family members. For me, it is one of the highlights of my spiritual life. :)

  2. You are such a good planner! Sorry about the other year when you fainted and hit your head! It will be fun to see your photos. Andrea

    1. I have this event planned down to the last little thing, Andrea, and that is what enables me to do it all! The monks always say that my almsgivings are the calmest, most organized ones that they attend, with everything planned out and no last minute rushing around to look for things, etc. :) I still have a dent in my forehead from where I hit the edge of the shower door railing when I fell! It could have been so much worse; pays to have a hard head! :D

  3. That is a lot of work, but your organised preparation is admirable, Bless. I am a list-maker too, but yours is in another league! I like the sound of the cashew curry. Hope it all goes well. I am not aware that we do anything like this but we are a country of many religions so it is quite likely that something similar may take place.

    1. Yes, it is a lot of work, but, I do it willingly and that makes a difference, I think. I like to list out the smallest detail so I don't forget anything! For cashew curry, I soak raw cashews for several hours, then, boil them with salt and turmeric. Then, add onions, curry leaves, green chilies, a little yellow curry powder, coconut milk, and lemon juice at the end.

  4. That's a very long list so make sure to pace yourself. I'm glad you'll have some help from R and M.

    I don't do anything like this but I admire the way you take an active part in doing this.

    1. Thanks, Eileen. I am pacing myself. I accomplished two small tasks, today (buying the non-grocery supplies and going to the bank), so I am happy. I am hoping to tidy the family room, this evening.

  5. You are very organized. I'm sure it will go very smoothly.
    If I lived nearby I would come and help you. :)

    1. Thank you, Nil. I would have welcomed your help. But, it is going to be a small gathering with only four monks, so it won't be too hectic. :)

  6. My, you sound busy busy busy! I don't do anything like that, but I do practice yoga and meditation regularly. It is so helpful to have a spiritual routine.

    1. It is going to be a busy week, that's for sure! But, I can't imagine not doing this, so, I will continue for as long as I can. :)


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