One of the greatest joys that Buddhist parents find is the chance to have sons enter the monastery as a novice for a few days at least. The boys too, consider it an honour to become sons of the Buddha and bear with uncommon dignity the strict rules they have to live by, including not eating after 12 noon until dawn of the next day. Usually cousins and nephews are included in the ceremony.
The first novice was Rahula, son born to the Buddha when he was Prince Siddhahta and who at seven years of age followed his father to a lifetime in the Order. To signify the fact of Rahula leaving the life of a prince, the soon-to-be novices are first dressed in princely raiment and paraded through town on horseback or on open cars before they return to the monastery to beg of the Abbot that they be allowed the honour of becoming novices.
During the parade when the procession is led by a loud music band and even dancers, they are shaded with golden umbrellas and if young, carried on the shoulders of their uncles or elder brothers. Even for a private ceremony for one family, the community of neighbours and friends will rally around to help with anything from arranging transportation, be it open-backed trucks, horses, or carts and to cooking enough for the monks and hundreds of guests.