Festivals in Laos are largely linked to religion and the yearly rice farming cycle. The general word for festival in Lao is “BOUN.” The festivals celebration often involved with music playing, wearing traditional customs, eating special cooked food, joining traditional procession and beautiful aspects of the traditional Lao lifestyle.
Boun Khao Chi (Ma Kha Bou Cha) or the festival of joy
A ceremony is held at the Wat (Temple) in the morning, when special “bread” made from roasted sticky rice (Lao people eat more sticky rice than anyone else on the planet) dipped in egg and sugar cane sugar. Boun Khao Chi is celebrated on the full moon day of the lunar month and held throughout the country. At night, temples are full of devotees perform a ritual Wien Tien (the candlelight procession around the main temple hall in a clockwise). The biggest celebrations take place at the Khmer ruins of Vat Phu Champasack.
Boun Pha Vet
A ceremony of offering donations in order to have one’s future read during the three days and three nights festival. During those days, the monks take turn to read part of the life of “Phavet” to commemorates the Buddha and his past life as the compassionate Prince Vessantara Jataka. People are welcome to visit, listen to sermons and meditate in the temples.
Lao New Year Festival
Boun Pi Mai (Lao New Year – Water Festival), it is the time when Lao cerebrates the start of their Lunar calendar year. Buddha images are taken out from the main temple hall to be cleansed with scented water made from perfume, flowers and water brought by devotees. It is also the time when people go back to their home town and celebrate with the families. Many will hold a Baci ceremony at their houses to welcome New Year as well as to wish their elders good health and long life. This festival makes one of the best times to visit Laos
Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)
Various villages throughout the country take part in one that most boisterous festivals on the Lao calendar. This festival dated back to pre-Buddhist times and featuring homemade rockets that are fired into the clouds to call for rain as well as it amidst a great deal of raucous chanting and merry making. People gather in the fields on the outskirts of villages to launch self-made firework rockets, they compete for the best decorated and the highest traveling rocket.
Boun Visakha Bou Char (Full Moon)
Boun Visakha Bu Saar (Full Moon): Starting on the day of the sixth lunar month, this cerebration commemorates the birth, enlightenment and parinibbana (death) of Buddha. The festival is based and visitors can see chanting and sermonizing at night followed by beautiful candlelight processions.
Boun Khao Phan Sa (Beginning of Buddhist Lent)
During the next three-month period, monks spend most of their time in praying, meditating and strictly forbidden from sleeping anywhere else but in their temple. People throughout perform Alms giving – food offering to monks – on the actual day.
Boun Ho Khao Padapdine
Ho Khao Padapdine means “to packets of rice and place them on the floor”. To celebrate the Boun Ho Khao Padapdine, the Buddhist are preparing offerings composed of Khao Nom Neb (Sticky rice cake stuffed with either sweet coconuts or yellow beans), fruits and other kinds of foods that will be offered to monks.
Boun Ok Phan Sa (End of Buddhist Lent), Luang Prabang
Often happen on the same day as Ok Phan Sa – End of Buddhist Lent ‘s Day where people can make merit at Chomsi Stupa (Mt Phusi). Activities involve morning Alms Giving Ceremony around the city, Lanterns decoration at all temples. Lanterns prepared from each village will be displayed in front of the National Museum before official ceremony start and parade to Xiengthong Temple before floating on to the Mekong River. A very spectacular event and must see when visiting LAOS. Whistle, people in Vientiane Capital is also enjoying Boat racing festival and Loy Katong – floating banana truck festival
That Luang Festival
That Luang Festival takes place on the full moon of the twelfth month of the Buddhist Calendar. It begins with pre-dawn gathering of ten thousand of pilgrims from different provinces gather here at the stupa for religious ceremonies including alms offering. The festival starts with a colorful candlelight “wax castle” procession which take place from Wat Simuang Temple to the stupa. People are dressing up with beautiful clothes and some are in their own ethnic costumes representing various part of the country. Handicrafts stores, food stores, traditional play games are all gathering here at this That Luang Temple.