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Laos New Year Activities

Laos New Year Activities

Old Apr 30th 2007, 3:12 am
Posts: n/a
Default Laos New Year Activities

Hi every body,

I would like to provide you information about our New Year activites
to help you understand more about our beautiful country:

Laos New Year

Lao people have celebrated Lao New Year for thousand of years. This
festive occasion is held each year from April 13 to 15. In Laos, this
is hottest month of the year and the rainy season is just around the
corner. It is the time when people ask for and give each other
forgiveness and give and receive wishes. Lao New Year is considered a
national holiday in Laos. Government offices are closed for three days
to observe the Lao New Year.

Lao New Year is also called SONGKARN FESTIVAL, or WATER FESTIVAL. The
festival is celebrated in many countries such as Laos, South China
where Lao ethnic reside, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Culturally, the SONGKARN celebrate for three days. Each day may
practice different activities as the following description:

The first day is the day that people organize the celebration. It
includes cleaning the house, preparing food and offerings to the
Buddhist monks. At the temple, the monks take Buddha statues from
"Sim," "Salahongtham," and the other buildings and place them in a
small, colorful house for the Buddha statues to undergo "Song Pha"

Ceremony in which the people and the monks pour water mixed with
perfumes and flowers onto the statues for blessing and good wishes.
The scented water from the ceremony, now a holy water, is taken home
to wash away bad luck from the house and family members.

On the second day, family members, relatives, and friends gather
together for a "baci" ceremony to welcome the New Year, and all the
souls, which represent different parts of a human body, are asked to
come back. At the "baci" ceremony, Lao people tie a white thread
around the each other's wrist and wish one another love, peace,
prosperity, longevity, good health, and happiness. At home, Lao people
also hold a ceremony in which they offer food and offerings to the
Buddhist monks a mean of paying homage to ancestors, relatives, and
loved ones. It is also a time when youngsters pay respect to the
elders and, in return, they receive wishes for peace, health, and
prosperity. In the evening, there is a community celebration where
people can watch beautiful classical and folk dances, and enjoy a
social dance, "Lamvong."

On the third day, Lao people go the temple to give offering to the
monks. It is a time to free animals (birds and/or fishes) from cages
and tanks. Lao people believe that by freeing the animals they are
casting away sickness and bad luck from their bodies. On this day,
Nang-Sang-Kan (the Lao New Year Princess) is chosen to sit on the back
of her personal animal of the year. Then a beautiful, organized
procession, with Nang-Sang-Khan as the key figure of the event,
parades around the town or city. Dances from different schools and
town were performed in the procession.

In Laos, during the full three days, Lao people stand along the roads
with water ready on hand to splash it on travelers. Groups of people
walk or ride with water pots to splash water on each other for good
luck, well wishes, and fun.

Why Do People Celebrate Lao New Year?

Lao people celebrate Lao New Year because of the following legend
long. Long ago, there was a rich man who married a very kind and
beautiful woman in a small town in a far away land. Although they had
been husband and wife for about four years, his wife did not bear a
child. So, one beautiful day, the rich man held a sacred ceremony,
begging for a child from a big, tall three called, "Toll Hi." At the
Toll Hi tree lived a "Tavarbood." "Tavarbood" is a male angel who
lives at the bottom of heaven. After hearing the request, Tavarbood
brought it to "Phra-Ya-In." Phra-Ya-In is also a deity, but has higher
nobility and title and lives at a higher level of heaven.

As a result, Phra-Ya-In granted one deity named, "Tham-Ma-
Barn" (Buddha in a previous Yuka), to incarnate as a son to the
couple. Then the wife of the rich man had a baby boy named, "Tham-Ma-
Barn." Since childhood Tham-Ma-Barn had received special training and
education, which allowed him to know and do everything. Tham-Ma-Barn
could answer any question when asked. He was clever and knowledgeable.
Tham-Ma-Barn was a great teacher and conducted many holy ceremonies
for the people.

Hearing about the extraordinary reputation of Tham-Ma-Barn, "Ca-Bin-
Pom," who was a deity and lived at the highest level of Heaven, came
down to the world to test Tham-Ma-Barn's knowledge and wisdom. Before
Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom asked Tham-Ma-Barn any questions, he asked Tham-Ma-Barn
to agree on his proposal. Ca-bin-Ra-Pom suggested, "I will ask you
three questions. If you cannot answer them, I will cut off your head
as a sacrifice to the teaching of Buddha. On the other hand, if you
can answer all three questions, I will cut off my head out of my
respect for your knowlege."

Tham-Ma-Barn agreed on the suggestion and the three questions given to
him were:

One, where is the virtue of a person in the morning? Two, where is the
virtue of a person at noon? Three, where is the virtue of a person in
the evening?

Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom gave Tham-Ma-Barn seven days to supply him with answers.
Day one, day two, day three, day four, and day five went by quickly
and Tham-Ma-Barn did not find any answer to even one question of Ca-
Bin-Ra-Pom. When six days arrived, Tham-Ma-Barn still could not find
the answers. He was so tired of thinking and searching for the right
answers. He was so exhausted that when he came upon a big tree in the
forest, he took a rest at its foot. As he closed his eyes, he heard
two excited voices from a far above branch of the tree. At the time,
two eagles on the branch, husband and wife were discussing the contest
of Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom and Tham-Ma-Barn. Tham-Ma-Barn, who was resting
quietly at the bottom of the tree, still had his eyes closed, but he
continued to listen in on the two eagles conversation.

The husband eagles told his wife that Tham-Ma-Barn would lose the bet
for sure, because the questions were very hard and no one on this
world knew the answers except the questioner and him. The wife eagle
was curious to know the answers to the questions and she begged her
husband to tell her. Without any hesitation, the husband explained the
answers to his wife and Tham-Ma-Barn now knew the answers and went
home happily.

On the following day, the seventh day, Tham-Ma-Barn and Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom
came face-to-face again and Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom asked for the answers. Tham-
Ma-Barn answered, " In the morning, the person's virtue is on the
face, because when a person wakes up he or she washes his/her face."
At noon, the virtue of a person is on the chest and the body, because
he/she puts water on the chest and takes a bath. In the evening, the
virtue of a person is on the feet, because he/she washes his/her feet
before going to bed." Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom was very surprised that Tham-Ma-
Barn answered all the questions correctly, but he gracefully
acknowledged his defeat by agreeing to cut of his own head, as he had

Because Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom's head was so holy that if it dropped onto the
ground, it would cause fire and burn down the whole world; if his head
rose into the air, the land would become arid and parched and people
would die; if his head fell into the ocean, the ocean would dry up.
Therefore, before cutting off his head, he asked his seven daughters
to gather around to receive his instruction. "My daughters," he
stated, "after I cut off my head, take my head and parade it around
the earth axis 60 times, and then take it to "Kay-Rad" Mountain. Each
year, one of you has to take turns to parade my head around the earth
axis and bathe it with holy and perfumed water to show your respect,
loyalty, and thankfulness to your father in order to give rain and
prosperity to the earth." When Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom finished speaking, he cut
off his own head and the seven princesses conducted the procession of
their father's head as instructed, and then they went back to heaven.
This is the birth of the Lao New Year celebration and the parade of
Nang-Sang Kan. The seven daughters of Ca-Bin-Ra-Pom were born on each
of the seven days, so each year the daughter whose birthday falls on
the first day of the New Year will hold her father's head and lead the
grand parade. In Lao language, Lao New year is called, "Boun-Pee-Mai,"
"Boun-Hod-Nam" (Water Festival), or "Boun-Kout-Song-Karn."

A family ceremony is held, as well as a visit to the temple to do the
merit offering, offering food to Buddhist monks as a way of paying
homage to ancestors and depositing wealth for the next birth, and
conducting the ritual of "Song Phra." Family members and friends get
together to do the Baci. At the Baci Ceremony, the Brahman, and
everyone, asks all the souls, which represent all parts of the body,
to come back. This is the time that youngsters pay respect to the
elders and, in return, receive the elders' wishes of good luck and
prosperity, and success in life. This is also the time when people ask
for and give forgiveness for the past year's wrong doings, those done
intentionally and unintentionally. All the bad luck, sickness, sorrow,
and poverty are banished form the house, the human body, and the
clothes. From now on, everyone receives good blessings of longevity,
health, prosperity, and success.

Therefore, for this Lao New Year Days, may you enjoy your peace,
prosperity, longevity, good health, and happiness. "Happy New Year!"
or "Sa-By-Dee-Pee-Mai!"

Source: http://www.traveltolao.com/index.php?mk=info&ida

Have a nice day!

Bill Nguyen
Marketing Manager

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