9. Boun That Luang Festival
The festival of Boun That Luang is held at The Golden Stupa or Pha That Luang, the most important religious monument in Laos over three-seven days during the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (November, but sometimes October).
The first activity in this festival is a colorful candlelight ‘wax castle’ procession which is held at Wat Simeuang. Many groups gather and walk three times around the main hall of worship in honor of the Vientiane city pillar which is considered one of the most important in Vientiane. According to legend, when the pillar was laid, a pregnant woman threw herself to death under the pillar as it was being dropped into position. Nang Si is now seen as the guardian of the city and every year homage is paid to her and Lord Buddha during the festival.
To continue the procession, thousands of people gather to bring their glittering creations to pay homage at That Luang. People often choose their best clothes to wear and there is also a parade of men and women dressed in various Lao ethnic costumes who dance and play traditional music and songs as they approach the stupa.
This festival is a good occasion for many Lao living abroad to come back to visit their family. They sit around together and say what they did in last year and plan a traditional picnic. Lao people also play some traditional game like Tikhy in these days.
The festival draws to a close under a full moon, when people from all over Laos will crowd around the Pha That Luang for one last candlelight procession, bearing posies of flowers, incense and candles. Normally these days there are also firework displays to mark the end of the celebration.
10. Hmong New Year Celebration
The Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural tradition that takes place annually in select areas where large Hmong communities exist and in a modified form where smaller communities come together.
During the New Year’s celebration, Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy Hmong traditional foods, dance, music, bull fights, and other forms of entertainment. Hmong New Year celebrations have Hmong ethnic traditions and culture, and may also serve to educate those who have interest in Hmong tradition. Hmong New Year celebrations frequently occur in November and December (traditionally at the end of the harvest season when all work is done), serving as a Thanksgiving holiday for the Hmong people.
The most interesting activity in the Hmong New Year celebration is a ball tossing game povpob. Boys and girls form two separate lines in pairs. Girls can ball toss with other girls and boys, but boys cannot ball toss with other boys.
Also, during the Hmong New Year celebration, house spirits as well as the spirit of wealth are honored. In addition, if a shaman is in the house, the healing spirits of She-Yee are also honored and released to wander the land similar to vacationing after a long year of working until they are called back right after new year. Hmong New Year lasts only for 3 days with 10 dishes of food each day, for a total of 30 dishes thus the Hmong saying “eat 30.”
For more information about Lao festivals, please visit our website.