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They spend their time meditating, talking casually, listening to chanting, reading, making decorations for the monastery, cleaning and polishing ritual implements, and cooking.
Some monasteries are famous for having monks who can chant the very quickly and others whose monks can chant it very beautifully. South and Southeast Asian Buddhists (although it only became a custom later) added the quarter days in the lunar cycle to the list of monthly days of observance, establishing four Sabbath-like days each month (known as days are times in which devout (or even casually observant) lay Buddhists often voluntarily vow to keep eight precepts (i.e.: refraining from: *consuming intoxicants; *abusing others with speech, untruths, slander, rumors; *sexual misconduct; *killing living beings, which can include animals and even insects; *stealing or hording property; *eating after noon; *excessively decorating and entertaining oneself; *sleeping on luxurious beds).
In practice, this means that many lay Buddhists, especially elderly women, dress in white, do not wear cosmetics or jewelry and sleep in open air pavilions on monastic grounds.
There are also resources on the web in the form of amateur video, eye-witness accounts, and anthropological descriptions.
The most well-known and consistently reliable studies of Thai ritual include Richard O'Connor's (the monastic code) is chanted in full.
However, large urban monasteries with famous teachers, images, or good libraries are also seen as attractive places to spend three months.
Many Thai Buddhists only ordain for three months and therefore, this period is the most popular time to undertake that life temporarily. It takes place on the day of the full moon of the eleventh lunar month (October).Regardless of the origins of the retreat, many monks in Thailand choose to "cham phansa" (stay in a monastery for the rains retreat) in a monastery that is not their home one (meaning the one in which they were originally ordained). Sometimes it is because they want to study Pali or Buddhist ritual science or meditation with a particular teacher at a particular monastery.They might want to translate or memorize a particular text that is popular at a particular monastery.Some stay all day taking on the five or eight precepts, while others simply present their offerings, meditate or chant for a few minutes, and stroll around the grounds.Children can play in the courtyards of most monasteries and mothers can nurse their infants.Monks are ritually bathed and dressed in new robes.