British Ambassador to the Lao PDR hosts a ritual Baci welcoming the Lao New Year and celebrating the Embassy opens doors in Laos
British Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Philip Malone hosted a ritual Baci ceremony in welcoming the Lao New Year and celebrating the Embassy opens doors in Laos. According to the ambassador, The Baci or Sou khuan is a well-known traditional ritual, it is an important part of Lao culture and has a deep meaning for Lao people, as well as for visitors to the country.
The baci ceremony is most common during April’s Pi Mai Lao or Lao New Year festival, when visitors will often see people holding a baci in their home or office to bestow good luck and success in the coming year. At the British Embassy, guests sit on the floor around a plate of flowers, and locally brewed alcohol, collectively known as the pha khuan. Most of the time a mor phon who is a respected and knowledgeable member of the community starts the ceremony and calls upon the spirits to return. The mor phon closes his eyes and chants in the religious Pali language and sometimes quotes from Lao poetry and proverbs.
Interview: Mor Phon, a respected and knowledgeable member of the community
Then participants tie a white thread around one another’s wrists while wishing each person good luck. Also threaded through the pha khuan are long white strings. They’re held by participants to connect them to those seated closest to the pha khuan, so they too are fully blessed.
After the ceremony, the mor phon ties the first white blessing thread around the wrists of the main person being honoured. Everyone joins in to tie thread around the wrists of the main celebrant and other people present, while murmuring their best wishes for a happy life.
After the ceremony, the host invites all the guests to eat, which is usually followed by dancing. The purpose of a baci is to build unity among families, friends and relatives. So stretch your legs, prepare your wishes, and discover this charming Lao custom.
LNTV Lao News broadcast 03/04/2013