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Lao New Year 2014

Lasting several days in mid-April, this is the celebration of the Lao New Year and is a combination of merriment and meditation. Similar to festivals at this time of year in other Southeast Asian countries - particularly Thailand - Boun Pimai is celebrated with parades, dancing, singing and enthusiastic water-throwing. The religious aspects of the festival are most apparent in Luang Prabang, where water pouring ceremonies are used at Buddha statues. Temple compounds are further decorated with small sand Stupas, offered as merit towards good fortune and health.


Magha Puja

Held on the night of the full moon in February, this festival commemorates the original teachings of Lord Buddha given to over a thousand monks who came spontaneously to hear him speak. The festival is marked by grand parades of candle-bearing worshippers circling their local temples, merit-making, and much religious music and chanting


Visakha Puja (Vesak)

Chanting, religious instruction, and candlelit processions highlight this temple festival held in May in celebration of the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha.

Boun Bang Fai (rocket festival)

With its origins in pre-Buddhist rain-invoking ceremonies, this festival in May now coincides with the Lao Visakha Puja celebrations. Parades, songs, dances and partying all lead to an explosive climax as huge, ornate, homemade bamboo rockets are blessed and fired into the skies to invite the rains. Rocket-makers earn both merit and honour if their creations fly high. This dramatic festival is also celebrated in north east Thailand

Khao Phansaa

Marking the beginning of the three-month Buddhist Lent, which commences at the full moon in July and continues until the full moon in October, this is considered a particularly auspicious time for Lao men to enter the monkhood and is marked by numerous ordination ceremonies

Haw Khao Padap Din

Held in August it is devoted to remembering and paying respect to the dead Relatives then present gifts to the monks who have chanted on behalf of those who have passed away

Awk Phansaa (Awk Watsa)

Marking the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent on the day of the full moonin October. Monks are at last permitted to leave the temple and are presented with gifts. One particularly beautiful aspect is Lai Hua Fai. On the eve of Awk Phansaa people gather at the nearest body of water to release dozens of small banana-leaf boats decorated with candles, incense and small flowers, in a celebration similar to the Thai Loy Krathong

Boun That Luang

Though celebrated at many temples around the country, this festival is traditionally centred at That Luang in Vientiane. Fairs, beauty contests, music and fireworks take place throughout the week of the full moon of November, and end with a candlelight procession (wien thien) around the temple of That Luang


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