Monastics are persons such as monks, who live under religious vows. They abandoned a life of pleasure and status, to live a simple and meditative life and attain nirvana.

Monastics take their vows for life but can renounce them and return to non-monastic life and even take the vows again later. A person can take them up to three times or seven times in one life, depending on the particular practices of each school of discipline; after that, the sangha should not accept them again. In this way, Buddhism keeps the vows "clean".

The special dress of ordained people referred to in English as robes come from the idea of wearing a simple durable form of protection for the body from weather and climate. In each tradition, there is uniformity in the color and style of dress. Color is often chosen due to the wider availability of certain pigments in a given geographical region.

In Tibet and the Himalayan regions (Kashmir, Nepal, and Bhutan) red is the preferred pigment used in the dying of robes. In Burma, reddish-brown; In India, Sri Lanka and South-East Asia various shades of yellow, ocher and orange prevail. In China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam gray or black is common. Monks often make their own robes from cloth that is donated to them.

The robes of Tibetan novices and monks differ in various aspects, especially in the application of "holes" in the dress of monks. Some monks tear their robes into pieces and then mend these pieces together again. Upāsakas cannot wear the "chö-göö", the yellow tissue worn during teaching by both novices and full monks.

Source:  http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhistworld/layguide.htm; http://en.dhammadana.org/sangha/monks.htm

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