5 Traditional Festivals in Laos
As a Buddhist country, traditional festivals in Laos are generally related to Buddhist festivals or farming. Throughout the year, there are many festivals in Laos to commemorate various aspects of traditional Lao lifestyle and culture.
1. Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year)
- Held on: 13-16th, April
Laotians worship, bathes, pour water, tie thread, give alms, pile up sand, release animals, etc. At the same time, people sprinkle water to each other at the home and street, which means blessing, let the pure water wash away the past disease, disaster, and pray for the next year of abundant rain, grain harvest and welcome a good New Year.
The Water-splashing Festival, also known as the Songkran Festival, is equivalent of the Spring Festival of Laos, which means ring out the Old Year and ring in the New Year. The Water-sprinkling festival is held in May of the Buddhist calendar, that is, April 13 to 15 in the Gregorian calendar. During the festival, besides splashing water, there are also lively items like bathing Buddha, making sand, dusting potash, dusting talcum powder and so on.
2. Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai)
- Held on: 6th, May
In May every year, before the rainy season, Laos welcomes an annual, large-scale folk festival- Rocket festival (Fireworks Festival), also known as the Rising Festival, Artillery Festival, Fire Dragon Festival and so on. At this mass festival, homemade earth rockets are fired into the air to pray for rain needed during the upcoming farming season.
3. Boun Khao Phansa（Buddhist Lent）-Boun Asarahaboucha
- Held on: 5th, July
The festival is held during the rainy season after the monks' three-month period of monastic seclusion and meditation (Boun Khao Pansa). At dawn on the first day, people made donations and offerings at temples around the city. At night, there is a candlelight procession at the temple, and hundreds of colorful floats, decorated with flowers, incense and candles, float on the Mekong River to worship the god of the river.
4. Boat Racing Festival
- Held on: 3rd, October
Following Boun Heua Fai, an exciting boat racing competition will be hosted on the Mekong River, Vientiane the next day. This is a very important activity in Laos, especially in the Vientiane. The number of a team for a Lao dragon boat is about 30 to 50 people, men and women form their own teams to participate. Each team is wearing the same color of the team uniforms, in the leader of the drum, issued a unified command, rowing forward.
5. That Luang Stupa Festival (Boun Pha That Luang)
Each year, hundreds of monks from all around the country will gather in Vientiane for the biggest Buddhist festival in Laos, the Boun That Luang. Foreigners and Lao people will approach the monk with a silver bowl of alms-giving articles in it, then take out an object and touch their forehead before placing it in the bowls of monks. During That Luang Stupa Festival, the national exhibition of Laos held, and the neighboring countries will be invited to participate in this exhibition. Except these, there're also the arts and sports performances, which makes the whole That Luang square hustle and bustle.