National Geographic : 1961 Aug
Saffron-robed novices ride a slim pirogue across the Mekong at Luang Prabang. This city, home of Lao kings, serves also as a spiritual center of the nation. Its name, loosely meaning great, or golden, Buddha, stems from the gold Pra Bang Buddha en shrined there by a 14th-century ruler who made Buddhism the land's religion. Kneeling women offer rice to a file of priests on their morning round for food. By feeding monks, Buddhists earn religious merit. Most Lao youths enter monastic life for at least a brief retreat. 257 HS EKTACHROMESBY W. E . GARRETT. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSTAFF (C' N.G .S.