How To Offer Food To Bhikkhus

1)    One should not offer food to bhikkhus after noon time. This is because bhikkhus have to abide by the precept to refrain from eating at the disallowed hours (ie. after noon till the break of dawn). Bhikkhus are also not allowed to store their food. Hence, one should offer food to bhikkhus during the period of time that they are allowed to take their meals ie from break of dawn till the time of the midday sun. However, there is no time restriction to the offering of medicine.

The Buddha had laid down rules for the bhikkhus, such that bhikkhus are not allowed to partake any food not offered in the proper manner to bhikkhus. Therefore while performing dana, one should stand or kneel before a bhikkhu within reachable distance of his arm, meaning one should avoid standing/kneeling too far away; he could then place the food into the bhikkhu’s hands, alms bowl or plate.

2)    In accordance to the Vinaya (precepts), after a bhikkhu has eaten and turned down further food offerings, he is not allowed to partake food that is not leftover. As such, when offering food, please do not ask whether the bhikkhu “wants or doesn’t want” food, or whether he has “had sufficient” food.

If one were to hold food in his hands with the intention of offering to a bhikkhu, but notice that the bhikkhu did not respond, or if the bhikkhu were to cover his alms bowl, then one should not be insistent in making the offering.

3)    When offering fruits or vegetables containing seeds (ie. plants with the residual potential to grow), such food needs to be made allowable first.

  • The offeror holding the fruits and vegetables, and the bhikkhu would say to him/her thus: “Kappiyaṃ karohi”, meaning “Make this allowable”.
  • The offeror should then break or puncture the skin of the fruit with a  knife or fork. Then the offeror should reply “Kappiyaṃ, bhante”, meaning “Venerable Sir, (this is) allowable”.

There are five methods of making allowable such food, namely:

  1. To damage with fire: to burn with fire or to pass through fire.
  2. To damage with a knife: to use a knife or fork to break or puncture the skin of the fruit
  3. To damage with finger nails: to break the skin of the fruit using finger nails.
  4. Seedless: plants such as bananas that are already without seeds
  5. Seeds removed: an example would be the removal of seeds from an apple.

Point to note: All food to be made allowable should be in contact with one another, or linked by contact. By making allowable one of the fruits/vegetables, the rest of the fruits/vegetables on the same plate will then be considered to have been made allowable together. After this, one can then offer the fruits/vegetables by hand to the bhikkhu.

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How To Make Food Allowable For Bhikkhus 2013 (revised)

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