Events and Festival:
Almost every month of the year there is either a local festival or celebration in Laos. The word for festival in Lao is boun, which also means doing good things in order to gain merit for subsequent lives. If you are in XiengKhouang while any of the festivals are taking place you will surely be welcomed and asked to join the fun. Please feel free to participate, however remember that most of the festivals are based on religious beliefs, so your hosts will appreciate it if you respect local codes of behavior.
January – February
Kud Chin & Ted Viet (Chinese & Vietnamese New Year)
Chinese and Vietnamese Lunar New Year is celebrated with parties, fireworks and merit making at temples. Chinese and Vietnamese businesses usually close for three days.
Pi Mai Lao (Lao’s New Year)
During the week of 15th day of 5th Month of lunar calendar (Mid April) the whole country celebrates. Buddha images are cleansed with sacred water and in the vats offerings of fruit and flowers are made. People take to the streets splashing water on one another and having parties everywhere. In XiengKhouang some years boat races take place at the Supanouvong Lake. Be advised that during Pi Mai Lao most businesses and government offices are closed.
Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)
Boun Bang Fai is a rainmaking and fertility festival that takes place just before the rainy season. Villagers make rockets from bamboo and homemade gunpowder and parade their colorful rockets noisily around the village before they are shot into the sky to ‘fertilize’ the clouds and bring rain which in turn feeds the rivers and fields.
BounKhaoPhansa (Buddhist Lent)
This festival, held on the full moon of the 8th lunar month, marks the beginning of Buddhist lent, a three month period where monks are required to stay within their temple to pray and meditate. Lao men are traditionally ordained as monks during this time.
Special offerings are made to the deceased on the new moon of the 9th lunar month.
Boun Ok Phansa (End of Buddhist Lent)
Held on the full moon of 11th Month of lunar calendar this festival celebrates the end of Buddhist lent. In the evening small banana-leaf boats called heuafai are launched at Nam Ngum and Supanouvong Lake filled with colorful incense, flowers, candles and a small amount of money to bring luck and prosperity.
Hmong New Year
XiengKhouang’s most colorful festival attracts crowds of people from around the province as well as Hmong from overseas.The festival is celebrated between 6 to 14 December, starting from the 15th day of the ascending moonto give thanks to ancestors and spirits at the end of the annual agricultural cycle. Traditionally it lasts ten days bringing people together from many villages, and it is here that young people typically find a husband or a wife. The special celebrations involve colorful displays of traditional costumes made from green, red and white silk and ornate silver jewelry. People enjoy the music of traditional Hmong instruments such as the teun-flute, Hmong khaen and leaf blowing. Other festivities include the Makkhon(cotton ball) throwing ceremony as part of a charming courting ritual, crossbow competitions and traditional games such as bull fighting and top spinning.
Khmu New Year
Is celebrated within the Khmu communities in late December following the annual rice harvest.
The Baci Ceremony
Spiritual and ritualistic practices are important to most Lao people. The Baci is an ancient pre-Buddhist ritual traditionally conducted by Tai speakers. The Baci is the most popular Lao traditional ceremony celebrated at special events, whether a marriage, a homecoming, a welcome, a birth, or even to help cure sickness. It involves the ritualistic tying of cotton threads to ensure blessings of the spirits on specific persons, activities, or places. It is an important gesture of reconciliation and is believed to restore the natural order of things.