We soon headed to the Mhagandayon Monastery so as to be outside its premises by eleven and watch the novice monks queueing up to get the meal of the day.
The well reputed monastery is said to house around 1,000 monks and despite the fact that foreingn visitors were spread around both sides of the main road that led to the refectory watching the novice monks and monk students as if in an animal zoo parade (I do apologise for the comparison but that's as similar a scenario as it looked) it was nevertheless a one time opportunity to understand the importance of such a novicehood time, in which monk novices and students are not allowed to take any food after noon, sing or play, sit on any elevated seat and possess any money, among other things.
They spend most of their time studying scriptures and strictly following the code of discipline, which will make them dignified human beings.
With very few exceptions their facial expressions were stern and composed. Althought the recent novices wearing white were the first to arrive they had to let most of the older ones walk by before they were allowed to follow suit, in a clear hierarchically defined order.
Whatever is collected as alms or generously handed to the monastery is put together and later distributed equitably.
We walked around the compound having had access to the small museum pertaining to the monastery as well as the communal kitchen, where a group of people from the same village were preparing the monk's food. Those who sponsor the "feeding" come along with friends and neighbours and carry out all the necessary preparation for the 1,000 or so meals - a solidarity act that also reveals the Buddhist approach to life - the loving kindness.
The atmosphere of silence that reigned in the overall monastery complex reminded me of my childhood at a boarding school of nuns, which I lived at for seven years in a similar regime of internship as in accordance with the Christian Catholic values, which have some common values, particularly in regards to aiming at becoming a better human being.