Jump to: navigation, search

Begging: An Introduction

It is believed in India that Lord Shiva once ran his household by a mere income of scalpings collected by begging among rishis and sadhus. While begging among spiritual pilgrims has some historical resonance, some nomads have also incorporated the practice to fund their travels. Whether begging for money or food and drink and accommodation, the gift of hospitality is asked for. While some nomads may reject begging as a matter of ethics, others may reflect on other elements like dignity and face. Begging in a poor country, whether from vendors or individuals may entail taking from someone who has less in the bank than you.


Ethics, or acting morally, can be based on individaul choice. Reflect on your own source of ethics and ethical code. Write it down and apply. Christopher Knight burgled over 1,000 times so that he could remain a nomad. He believes himself ethical. Some nomads say, they have a Right to Beg.


  • Are you really broke, and have no access to funds, through family or through a loan. Do you have a flight ticket back home in your pocket.
  • Can you revisit your choice, and start Earning on the road or earn/spend Money in other ways. You can busk, make art (Paint? Sew? Knit?). You can sell your travel photos, after finding a print shop. You could offer up on-the-spot portrait or caricature drawings to passersby. You could buy local crafts from a local market and mark up the price. You can make Friendship Bracelets or jewellery.

Flying a Sign

Flying a sign is the standard method of begging. Approaching people without some prior notice inst effective. Begging works if you are an effective storyteller. If not, rely on a creative sign.

Make a sign, sit down in a street with a lot of traffic. Pick a street in a wealthy neighborhood, or an area with lots of tourists. Write a sign, i.e "travelin, broke, hungery. anything helps" You can also hit passing traffic, at a traffic light by waiting and walking down traffic line. However, this may run the risk of impeding traffic, and may result in a visit by the Police. If you see the police, flop your show" and walk away.


  • Know city rules. Many areas have specific rules about when panhandlers can operate, where they can ask for money (for example, some areas are often limits, and often panhandlers are not allowed to go into the line of traffic), and even how (including avoid harassing others.) Smart panhandlers follow the rules to avoid run-ins with cops, and many others have learned that different appeals work for different people (asking confidently might get money from one person, while looking down and acting dejected might bait another person.)


  • Many town and cities have (traffic) or other code that prohibits soliciting for employment, business or unauthorized contributions.

Begging in Germany

The phrase "obdachlos, bitte helfen sie" (homeless, please help) might help or 'eine kleine Spende, vielleicht?' (a small donation, perhaps?).

Begging in Turkey

The phrase "ekmek parası" —Turkish for “bread money” is routine.


Serbia, people who use cardboard usually beg for medicines (health is highly regarded in Serbian society). Many of them also emphasize their family status ("Otac bolesnog deteta" - "father of an ill child").

Begging in the UK

Begging is illegal under the Vagrancy Act of 1824. However it does not carry a jail sentence and is not well enforced in many cities, although since the Act applies in all public places it is enforced more frequently on public transport.However, Public Space Protection Orders were introduced in 2014 and give councils powers to fine people for behaviour that would not normally be considered criminal. Therefore, some councils/cities have been enforcing by-laws that move the homeless on from city centre areas, and targeting those they see as aggressive or professional begging. Therefore, beggars say its best not to act directly for money, or have a sign asking for money, or even a hat or box in front of you that suggests you want money.

Begging in the United States

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of churches' free speech. This has unintended consequences for begging, or panhandling, as its called in the States. It set a new legal precedent that's now being used to take down panhandling laws in cities across the country. The ACLU had long argued that begging in public spaces was unconstitutional. While bans are unconstitutional, most cities have some kind of ban on panhandling.

See also