On Global Service Corps’ Buddhist Immersion Program, volunteers not only have the opportunity to support the community by teaching English to novices, monks, and nuns, they also get to live and learn in a Khmer wat, truly immersing into the wat culture. Here are a few tips on what to do and what not to do in a wat:
- Never point your feet at anyone or pat someone on the head (considered to be sacred). People walk on bare feet, so they are considered the dirtiest part of the body and become a symbol of disrespect.
- Take your shoes and hats off before entering any building!
- Do not leave books on the floor and do not sit on a desk or table. This shows disrespect for the book, desk or table which could be the sacred platform for studying Dhamma.
- In general, people do not touch monks. Monks practice celibacy, and so especially avoid contact with women. Men can hand things directly to a monk, but women must put an item down on a receiving cloth (or substitute) while the monk touches the cloth.
- When greeting a monk, bring your palms together, in a manner of prayer, called Som Pas. Lift up your hands with the tip of your fingers to the forehead level and bow low. In general, the higher the hands and lower the bow, the more respect is being shown.
These are just a few significant cultural tips to follow inside a wat. Volunteers teach English and participate in mediating, chanting, alms giving, and daily rituals at the temple with the Khmer monks and nuns!
For more information on our Buddhist Immersion Program, visit our website here!