By Savannakhet Secondary School, Savannakhet
The festival and holiday in Laos is Pi-Mai-Laos (Lao New Year). Lao New Year is an important season for Laos. It begins around the middle of April on the 13th, 14th or 15th and it lasts for three days. In this season, most people perform a ceremony called “Basi” (hand tying). “Basi” is an important activity and everyone must show respect. The “Basi” is performed so that the soul comes back to our body and therefore Lao people believe that they are then protected. Because of “Basi”, they receive goodness, cleanliness of the soul of bad things and sickness, and it strengthens their character. After the “Basi” ceremony, most of the people go to the temple to listen to the monk’s speech. We wash the Buddhas, old people’s heads such as parents, relatives and cousins. Throwing water symbolizes washing bad things out of our body and cooling our life so that we receive happiness forever. During the three days of Lao New Year, most people greet each other, have parties and celebrate at a variety of places and throw water throughout the three day festival. In Laos, we have many important festivals. It is impossible to give a detailed description of all of them. If you want to know more, you must come to Laos and travel my country and then you will understand !!
The festival in Laos is Laos's New Year, called ''Pi May Laos''. This festival starts on the 14'th-16'th of April, and is three days long. The first day is ''Sangkan Kheun''. On this day we throw water on the Buddhas because Lao people inspect and clean the Buddhas and celebrate ''Nang Sangkanh''. This celebration is very beautiful because it has 7 Lao girls wearing Lao styles (long skirts and dresses). The second day is ''Wand Nao''. On this day we throw water same as the first day and we have a Lao festival (dancing). The last day Lao people throw water which gets people very happy and is called ''Basi Soukvand''. I think this festival is very important for Laos because it presents the beautiful culture of Laos. This festival where we throw water makes us very happy and we like to go to many picnics.
Nang Vanphakonekham Koulavongsa
Nang Angkhana Lasaphonh
Nang Vilatda Leudnignom
The Light Festival (Boun Ok Phansa or pirogues race)
We present you one of the most important festivals in our country. This festival occurs in October during one day, on the 15th day of the rising moon of the 11th month of the lunar calendar.
First in the morning, we go to the pagoda to do offerings to the monks, and then, in every village, people build a small fire pirogue, in Laos we call it « Heua Fay » (we make it from banana leaves that we cut like a pirogue and we put many candles and flowers on it), then we organize the party along the Mekong and we do a dance contest for each village and the winner gets money, about 500 000 kips. During the afternoon, there is also a competition of pirogues on the Mekong, there are many people who go and encourage. In each pirogue, there are about 50 rameurs. There are also shops, games and the Lamvong (dance in couple). At last, during the night, we do the Loy Kathong (we throw in the Mekong an object which has the shape of a circle and which is made from banana leaves and flowers, or in plastic, and on which we put candles and incense sticks, but it is better not to leave the plastic Kathong in the Mekong because it pollutes it), before throwing the Kathong we make a wish, whatever we want, for example : we wish each other good luck, we wish to have a lot of money, we wish to manage some works ... and at the same time we leave the « Heua Fai » in the Mekong. At midnight, many people wait for the « Bang Fai Phayanark » (it is a phenomenon which appears in the middle of the Mekong between Thailand and Laos that nobody can explain. At midnight, there are small lights which come out at the surface of the water, they are not the action of men, and people who see them think it is the action of a dragon).
In my opinion, the pirogues festival has much attraction for everybody. It is a custom and a tradition which is very ancient and inherited since much time. This is not all, we also have other festivals during the year, for example : Lao New Year, the festival of the fusée, That Inghang festival, That Luang festival, .... Therefore, we invite you to discover our culture by travelling, there are also many touristy places (ex : Kuang-Si waterfalls in Luang Phra Bang, Champasak Vat Phou, Jarres prairies, ...).