Several provinces across Laos including Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savanakhet and Champasak began their Lao New Year celebrations with a Miss Pi Mai Lao procession, while the water wars were everywhere.
Many streets in Laos were drenched with water as Lao people joined with foreign tourists to through water at passers-by and generally celebrate the New Year in a spirit of revelry and friendship.
Luang Prabang, Fa Ngum Road in Vientiane, Vangvieng’s Xong River in Vientiane province, and Pakse were among the most popular destinations for foreign visitors and local residents as well.
A particular highlight was the beautiful Nang Sangkhan procession in Luang Prabang, which included parades of monks and people dressed in the traditional clothing of the different ethnic groups.
On Sunday, Vientiane joined with the provinces of Luang Prabang, Bokeo, Xieng Khuang, Savannakhet, Saravan, Champassak and Khammuan to hold Miss Lao New Year processions to add colour to the celebrations.
Vangvieng saw local people perform traditional lamvong dances in the open air while the tourists did their own dancing in restaurants along the Xong River and enjoyed having a splash.
Meanwhile, music thundered from loudspeakers throughout Vientiane as roadside parties got into full swing in every corner of the capital. Friends and passers-by alike mingled joyously as if they had known each other for ever.
Members of the public joined various sporting competitions on the Don Chan Island beach, such as futsal, volleyball and building sand castle and many people cooled off in the Mekong, in spite of the shallow waters.
Many people also loaded water tanks on to pickup trucks to throw water on people along the roads as well as at other pickup trucks passing by.
However, it was unavoidable that some teenagers behaved inappropriately by throwing water bags and coloured water on people in their jubilation. This kind of behaviour can cause motorists to have road accidents and needs to be avoided.
The festive atmosphere abated somewhat as Lao traditions took precedence. Many people tried to celebrate the New Year based on traditional culture, taking this opportunity to hold Baci ceremonies with their families and pour water to ask for forgiveness from their elders and their parents.
People visited temples to pour water on Buddha images and ask for good luck in the year to come, with people seeking the Buddha which corresponded to the day they were born.
Monks were on hand to tie white strings around people’s hands as a way to wish them good health and good fortune after the New Year and throughout the rest of their lives.
A special Baci ceremony was held at Vat Ongteu temple in central Vientiane to encourage residents to be peaceful, as well as ask for blessings and forgiveness among the participants.
After New Year’s Day, Buddha images were taken back to their residing places, and in some temples, they held Baci ceremonies for the monks.
This year, the government announced April 17 as a public holiday to compensate for April 14 (the first day of the New Year) which fell on a Sunday. The extra holiday gave a chance for people to visit their relatives in different provinces.
People started coming back to Vientiane from the provinces on Tuesday and Wednesday to be back at work on April 18.
Not only Laos celebrates this kind of New Year festival. Theravada Buddhist countries including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar also take part in water splashing ceremonies to symbolise a clean start to the New Year.
Source: Vientiane Times