In the morning, they pray and collect alms. At night, they march and shout for Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to resign.
Clearly these aren't your ordinary tranquil Thai Buddhists.
In fact, they are members of the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect, and have dubbed themselves the "Dharma Army," in reference to the teachings of the Buddha that promote virtue. It's a jarring name to people who associate Buddhism with pacifism.
"It is our duty to Lord Buddha to oust the greedy and sinful Thaksin," says their charismatic and outspoken leader, Phra Bodhirak.
The group's members have joined the growing popular demonstrations to force Thaksin -- whom they accuse of corruption and abuse of power -- to step down.
A senior member of the sect, former Bangkok Governor Chamlong Srimuang, is one of the leaders of what have become nearly daily anti-Thaksin protests. He last played such a role in 1992, when pro-democracy demonstrators forced out a military-backed government.
Santi Asoke is not shy about flexing its political muscle, in the streets as well as at the ballot box. The group was in the vanguard of the 1992 demonstrations, and last year turned out in force to demonstrate against a beer company's plans to list on the Thai stock exchange -- alcohol being anathema to a virtuous Buddhist.
Once loosely affiliated with a political party founded by Chamlong, the group has now formed its own party known as "Pua Fa Din," or "For Our Land."
About 2,000 members of Santi Asoke are a steady presence at the anti-Thaksin rallies, which attract tens of thousands of people. Most wear the traditional blue Thai farmer's shirt called mohom, symbolizing their devotion to simplicity.
There is a strong tradition in some schools of Buddhism -- in India and Vietnam, for example -- to engage in organized social and political struggle. But Thai Buddhism generally reflects the country's easygoing nature, which is respectful of authority and generally avoids confrontation.
Even so, Santi Asoke's street marches are peaceful and disci-plined. The group prepared for a recent street action by viewing a video about the struggle of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian's national independence hero and apostle of nonviolence.
Members of the group -- which operates several vegetarian restaurants around the country -- man field kitchens at the site in Bangkok where protesters are encamped between rallies.
For all its discipline, however, Santi Asoke has always marched to the beat of a different drum. It never formally registered with the government's Department of Religious Affairs, and has been at odds since its founding in the 1970s with the Sangha Council, the country's ruling body for monks.
Sect founder Bodhirak was a TV presenter and songwriter named Mongkol Rakpong before becoming a monk in 1970, and three years later established his own Buddhist center, emphasizing self-reliance, simplicity and hard work.
Some people find the group's loudly proclaimed tenets of self-sacrifice dogmatic and self-righteous. Its implicit message -- that the mainstream Buddhist clergy don't live up to the religion's ideals -- has also earned it enemies, and resulted in Bodhirak's arrest.