The act of giving alms to monks has been practiced by Buddhists for thousands of years. It’s equated with doing good things and the belief is that this will bring about peace and happiness.
There are many ways in which Buddhists can make merit and among them are giving alms, living life according to religious precepts and praying.
Alms giving is very common practice and usually done at the break of dawn when Buddhist monks begin their alms rounds. Laypeople are required to prepare food and water and wait for the monks to approach them with their alms bowl.
It is important to note that women are prohibited from physical contact with a monk regardless of her age, nationality or religion. Every female alms donor must take care not to touch a monk when she is offering food to him.
Once food and water have been placed inside the bowl, the monk will place the lid on top of his alms bowl and recite a prayer as a blessing to his donor after which the merit-making will be considered as officially over.
Buddhists give alms for a number of reasons, one example is in honor of deceased loved ones, the belief being that they will not have to suffer from famine in the afterlife.
The common rule when making merit is to ensure that the mind is purified. Only after that state has been accomplished will the Buddhist proverb of “do good and good will come unto you” ring true.