Majority of Myanmar practice Buddhism. One of the traditions of giving religious inheritage from parents to sons is celebrating novitiation ceremony. After novitiation ceremony, 9 years old boys (may be younger and older) enter to monastery for experience of monastic life, they become novices. Some boys stay for a week, some decide to stay for a month at the monastery. After short period of monastic training, some boys back home and some boys decide to remain at the monastery as novices (under 19 years) and monk (over 20 years).
They study Pali language and Tripitaka – teaching of Buddha. Every village, every quarter of the city there is one monastery at least. Some monasteries are as big as the school for Buddhist monks. One of the famous Buddhist schools for Buddhist monks at Amarapura is Mahagandayone monastery.
There are 1200 Buddhist monks at Mahagandayone monasery. In the big monastery compound there are many buildings which are houses for Buddhist monks and their classrooms. Monks have to follow very strong disciplines. Early morning before the class starts, monks go out to the city for alm food.
Buddhist families use to prepare food (rice and curry) and wait in front of their houses for monk coming. About 2 hour round is enough to collect for lunch. In the monastery, if there is a donator for monk’s lunch, they do not go out for food. Around 10:30am they all have lunch together in the big hall. For the day of ceremony, they enter with empty bowls and receive rice from donators who wait at the entrance of dining room. Curry and side dishes are prepared on the table.
The moment, thousands of Buddhist monks with reddish robe enter to dining room together is very special for travelers. Most visitors use to visit Mahagandayone monastery around 10:00M. Most big monasteries do not accept visitors but Mahagandayone monastery do accept.
Last two years there are lots of visitors at the monastery. There are several books written by venerable monks of Mahagandayone monastery about teaching of Buddha. The most popular books are questions and answers, 5 minutes meditation.