The Government Office has announced that an extra day will be added to the traditional Pi Mai Lao or Lao New Year holiday, bringing the total to four-day public holiday, which will run from April 14-17. The last day of the holiday has been allotted in compensation for April 14 being a Sunday.

The Government Office issued a notice this week to inform line ministries, state organisations and authorities in Vientiane and the provinces about the public holiday and offered suggestions for celebrating the New Year in line with Lao tradition. The guidelines aim to promote solidarity, safety, public order and an atmosphere of fun for everyone during this year’s festivities.

According to the notice, All government agencies have been instructed to ensure that any events they organise to celebrate Pi Mai Lao take place in keeping with tradition and cultural norms.

Government organisations may hold parties between the dates of April 12-17. The government has asked that these events be conservative and simple and that participants refrain from engaging in extravagant behaviour. The request has been made to keep costs low and minimise the spending of government money.

In addition, the government has asked authorities at all levels, including in the capital, provinces, districts and villages, to educate the public and instill a proper understanding among all people about the way in which Lao New Year should be celebrated in line with the country’s traditions and fine culture. The objective is to ensure that national traditions are preserved and not tarnished in any way.

Officials in charge of each locality have also been asked to arrange trade fairs and tourism-related activities over the Pi Mai Lao holiday, to bolster the tourism industry. The government has suggested that local officials arrange tours to natural, cultural and historical attractions in their neighbourhoods, to offer the public more options in enjoying the true meaning of the annual festival.

Officials are also asked to focus on maintaining security, safety and social order. In this regard, the government has asked state organisations at all levels to assign officials to guard their premises.

The announcement also requested officials to keep a strict watch over the traffic situation and ensure that water battles on the streets do not get out of control, in order to keep accidents to a minimum.

The government has asked the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and other sectors to put in place appropriate measures to regulate markets, product prices and service costs, to prevent price fluctuation and unreasonable price hikes during this time of high demand. Officials were also asked to ensure an adequate supply of goods in local markets during the festival.

Precautionary measures were also advised to prevent the outbreak of fires during the New Year celebrations.

Every year, the authorities in Vientiane and in Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces, organise activities for public participation.

These typically comprise a beauty contest with the crowning of Nang Sangkhan (Miss New Year), a procession, sand stupa building, and parties featuring live bands. Many people also visit temples to offer food and flowers to the monks and wash Buddha images with scented water. Later they douse one other — and passing tourists — with water, which is a time honoured tradition during Lao New Year.

LNTV Lao News broadcast on 15/4/3013