Giving something to other as an offering or support is alms. Alms means both of the object donating and donation. The merit of the alms is the donation. In other words the thought of the donation is the merit.

There are two types of alms. One is giving something to someone who is in same quality with you or less quality. Other is giving something to someone who is in better quality than you. Those are called "Puja" in Pali language (massiveness). But paying a renting or giving something to spouse and the children is not alms.

There are three types of Puja. One is alms Objects. Second one is thank or praise. Third one is practice. Donating things such as Foods and drinks, cloths, flowers, incense are objects. Singing stanza with full of devotion for noble persons such as Buddha is the alms of thank. This is appearing in every religion. And Buddhists also doing this since very ancient times.

This is a merit but now a days people have get wrong explanations for this. Or they have no clear idea of this merit. Ancient veterans have created those stanza for thanking for the triple gems. Worshiping stanzas are encomiums. Saying those encomiums is merit with lots of charisma. You will gain more merit with more stanzas.

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