lao festival - boun that luang

Events and Festivals

Official Holidays

In Laos, working days are from Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM. and form 2:00 PM till 5:00 PM.

Official holidays include the following days:

  • International New Year (January 1)
  • Lao New Year (mid April)
  • International Labour Day (May 1)
  • National Day (December 2)

Festival and Major Events

A variety of festivals and religious ceremonies are observed throughout the whole year. The most important ones are listed below.

January:

Boun Khoun Khao: Harvest festival in villages. A ceremony is performed giving thanks to the spirit of the land.

February:

Boun Khao Chi: a ceremony held at the wat (temple) in the morning, when a special “bread made of sticky rice” is offered.

Sikhottabong Festival in Khammouan: This religious festival is held at Sikhottabong stupa, located about 6 km south of Thakhek. Historically, it was built in the 8th and 10th centuries by King Nanthasene. Then the stupa was restored as its original design in the 1950′s.

Wat Phu Festival in Champasak: Wat phu festival is annually held in the full moon of the 3rd month of lunar calendar, on the grounds of the enchanting pre-Angkorian Wat Phu remains in Champasak. Festivities are elephants racing, buffaloes fighting, cocks fighting and performances of Lao traditional music and dance. The trade fair showcasing the products from the southern province of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam is also held.

March:

Boun Pha Vet: a ceremony of offering donations to have one’s future read from a piece of paper drawn, during the three day-three night festival.

April:

Lao New Year Parade in Luang PrabangBoun Pimai: the Lao New Year, is celebrated in mid April. On the first day of the festival, Buddha images are taken out of the temples to be cleaned with scented water. The water which drops from the images is collected and taken home in order to pour it on friends and relatives as an act of cleaning and purification. On the evening of the final day, the Buddha images are returned to their proper shrines. In Luang Prabang the festival also features a beauty contest with the crowning of Miss Pimai.

Lao New Year in Vientiane: Lao New Year,Pi Mai Lao, usually performed on April 14-16, or lunar new year, is the time when the entire country celebrates; citizens remove Buddha images from the temples to clean with scented water, then take to the streets to dowse one another with this water, an act of clean and purification in anticipation of the end of the dry season.

Lao New Year in Luang Prabang: In Luang Prabang, the new year celebration is especially beautified amd the most colorful parade describing the traditional Lao costumes, music and dance, the procession of the sacred Prabang Buddha image, and the Miss New Year beauty contest will be shown.

May:

Boun Bangfai: the rocket festival, is held at the beginning of the rainy season. The festival is a call for rain and a celebration of fertility. In the morning a religious ceremony is performed. In the afternoon, people gather in the fields on the outskirts of villages and towns to launch self-made firework rockets. Different communities compete for the best decorated and the highest travelling rocket. Men disguised as women perform vaudeville acts using wooden phalli in order to anger the gods. As revenge, the gods are expected to send thunderstorms. Beginning around the middle of May, the rocket festivals are staggered from place to place to enable greater participation and attendance.

June:

This is time when an offering to the spirits can be made in a corner of one’s garden, very early in the morning

July:

Boun Khao Phansa: the beginning of the Buddhist lent. During the next three-month period. Monks spend most of their time in prayer and meditation and are restricted from spending nights in other vats other than their own.

August:

Boun Kao Padabdinh: the observation of a practice of making offerings to the dead.

Boat Racing Festival in Luangprabang: This festival includes boat racing on the NamKhane River and a trade fair in Luangprabang city.

September:

Boun Khao Salak: At the Khao Salak ceremony day, people visit local temples to make offering to the dead as well to share merits making.

October:

Boun Ok Phansa: that marks the end of the monks’ three-month-fast and retreat during the rainy season. At dawn, donations and offerings are made at the temples. Prayers are chanted by the monks, and at dusk candlelight processions wind round the temples. Concurrently, hundreds of decorated candlelit-floats, made of paper, are set adrift in the rivers. These carry offerings and incense, transforming the river into a fragrant snake of sparkling. This ceremonial part is called Boun Lay Heua fai. The biggest event of the Phansa festival, Boun Souang Heua, is a boat race on the Mekong river between competing communities the next day.

Boat Racing Festival in Khammouan: Boat Racing is held in Sebangfai river. At the same occasion a trade fair of agricultural products, local handicrafts, traditional Lao music and dance performance; at the same time, citizens donate the offering to the dead in to share merits.

Boat Racing Festival in Vientiane: In Vientiane, the water festival held during k Pansa is spectacular; on the first day at dawn, donations and offerings are made at temples around the city; in the evening, candlelight processions are held around the temples and hundred of colorful flosta decoated with flower; incense and candle are set adrift down the Mekong river in thanksgiving to the river spirit; the next day, a popular and exciting boat racing competition is held on the Mekong.

November:

Boun That Luang Festival and Trade Fair: This religious festival is held in and around That Luang stupa, the national sysmbol of Laos. It is a three-day religious festival celebrated at full moon in November. It begins with pre-dawn gathering of ten thousands of pilgrims from Laos and Thailand at That Luang who listen to prayers and sermons chanted by hundreds of monks representing all Lao wats. During the following days a fair is held nearby, showcasing tourism in Laos and other countries in ASEAN and the Great Mekong Sub region,will take place during the day. The festival ends with a huge fireworks display.

December:

That Inhang Festival in Savannakhet: This festival will be held on the grounds of the splendid That Inhang stupa, located just outside the city of Savannkakhet; an international trade fair will include exhibitions of tourism products from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and performance of traditional Lao, Thai and Vietnamese music and dance; the fair will also include a sports competition, complete with foorball, boxing and tennis matchs and local traditions like a drumming competition.

Hmong New Year: Between mid December until January, the Hmong New Year celebration features colorful displays of traditional costumes made from green, red and white silk and ornate silver jewelry. Music from traditional Hmong instruments such as the teun-flute, Hmong-style khene pipe and leave blowing is enjoyed. Other festivities include the Makkhon (cotton-ball) throwing ceremony, ox fighting, spinning-top races and crossbow demonstrations. The festival takes place in Oudomxay, Xieng Khouang, Luang Prabang and Vientiane Province.

Calendar of events and festivals in Laos for 2008
Calendar of events and festivals in Laos for 2009

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