The Water Festival in Laos

Water Festival is one of the traditional cultural festivals of the Southeast Asian countries. This festival is called Bunpimay by Laotians, Songkran by Thai people, Chol Chnam Thmey by Cambodian and Thingyan by Myanmar people.


The traditional Bunpimay festival in Laos

Meaning

Water Festival has a meaning of bringing coolness, prosperity for all things, and purifying human life. On this day, people often splash water to each other to bless, pray good weather, demand for a prosperous and happy new year. Water Festival in Laos is generally called Bunpimay (Bun for short), which means doing good, doing good to be blessed.

Festival Customs

In the first day of the festival, also the last day of the old year, people clean their house the roads, prepare scented water and flowers. In the afternoon, people in the village gather in the temple to worship the Buddha, pray, listen to the monks preaching, pray for health and happiness for the whole year. After that, they process the Buddha statue to a special compartment and worship there in three days so that everyone can come and bathe the Buddha.

The Buddha bathing ritual

The second day is not included because it is the transition between the old year and the new one.

The third day is the last day of the festival with many jubilant activities in everywhere. Before splashing, people often exchange the good wishes. To show the respect, young people splash water to older people to wish them long life-span and prosperity. Friends splash water to each other. They do not just splash to others, but also to their houses, worshiping objects, animal and production tools. Lao people believe that water will wash away bad things, diseases and wish to long live, healthy and clean New Year. Those who are wetter will be happier in the coming year

Friends splash water to each other
People build sandy towers, decorate them with flags, flowers, ropes and splash scented water. In those days, people also release animals such as turtles, fish, crabs, birds ... to get blessed.

People attach Cassia fistula flowers (golden shower tree) into the car and hang them on to pray for luck, tie the Champa flower in clusters or pin on their hair to pray for luck for the whole year.

Location

Water Festival is held throughout the country, but the funniest places are Luang Prabang ancient capital and Vang Vieng. In Luang Prabang, where there are many temples and is a famous tourist destination, foreign visitors can enjoy a real festive atmosphere with lots of exciting games.

Notes

If in Laos in holiday days, please be ready to receive the blessing of water. Lao people are very friendly, they do not harm you. If you're driving or walking on the street, they'll just splash water to yourselves. Do not be angry, they do so only to wish you good health all your life and think that they will be as healthy as you.

People splash water to those who are travelling on the road to pray for luck and health
In Luang Prabang, there are many hotels and motels for guests at a price of 300,000 VND (about 15 USD). At the time of the festival, you should book in advance to make sure there are rooms in availability. This is a city which has a long history of Laos with a lot of attractions like the sacred temples, the old town, Pak Ou cave, Phoushi mountain and the night market, places selling traditional products or famous silver products made by Laotians.

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