Boun Pi Mai, also known as Laos Water Festival, is one of the most special events to celebrate the Lao New Year Festival. Coming to Laos during this festival, you can enjoy numerous exciting things to enjoy the festive vibe and learn about the Lao traditional culture.
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Every year, Boun Pi Mai is celebrated as one of the most important Lao New Year Festivals throughout the country, particularly in Luang Prabang, where Buddhism is worshiped. The festival attracts a large number of locals and tourists all over the world to Laos. If you visit Laos on the occasion of Boun Pi Mai, find out these must-do activities to learn about the religious aspects of Lao New Year Festival.
As a spiritual custom to generate good fortune for Lao New Year, Boun Pi Mai takes place annually from the 13th to 15th of April, in the middle of hot season. Without fireworks and family fathering, Boun Pi Mai is rather about worshiping the Buddha and splashing water on streets. According to traditions and customs in some Southeast Asian countries, people usually pour water on others after saying happy new year to wish someone good fortune. Unlike some Western culture, this act of splashing water is totally a sign of respect during Boun Pi Mai.
Worshiping the Buddha is an important ritual in Boun Pi Mai
Like the Songkran in Thailand or Chol Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, Boun Pi Mai is celebrated with parades, dancing, singing and splashing water to each other. However, each region has its own attributes and original activities to celebrate the Water Festival.
In Laos, Boun Pi Mai is held in three days with a plenty things to do.
The Laotian called the first day of Boun Pi Mai is Maha Songkran, meaning the last day of the old year. Local people clean their houses, as well as prepare flowers to make the festival more unique and fabulous.
In addition to decorating the houses, people assemble in pagodas and temples for monk’s lecture and praying Buddha. Especially, scented water is taken along to clean Buddha statues. Then the water dropping from the statues is collected to bring home and poured onto friends and relatives as an act of purification and fortune.
Scented water is used for cleaning Buddha statue in Boun Pi Mai
This is the most relaxing day of Boun Pi Mai, when people can put their feet up or continue to prepare for the festival. Normally, there is no work for the festival, so people can go to the street to enjoy the festive vibe and join some activities.
The last day of Boun Pi Mai is named Wan Thaloeng Sok, as an official remark of the beginning of Lao New Year. Most of exciting activities happen on the last day of Boun Pi Mai. People splash water either on other people or onto the house, furniture and animals for best luck. At the end of the festival, people also release animals such as fish, turtle and crab for peace in the upcoming year.
Splashing water is considered as giving good luck in Lao New Year
It must be a big mistake if you miss out this highlight of Lao Water Festival. Don’t afraid to get wet, since it is lucky for those who are poured water onto on these days. It is a good signal of fortune, health and happiness for a new year. Once you hit the streets of Laos during Boun Pi Mai, you will immerse in a joyful water fight which brings bless for luck and happiness in the future.
During Boun Pi Mai, temples and pagodas are also must-visit sites to get an insight of Lao traditions. You will catch the sight of people washing Buddha images to signify cleaning. At each temple, you will be given blessings and a white string tied around the arm for best wishes in Lao New Year.
As mentioned above, Luang Prabang is the best destination to celebrate Boun Pi Mai. Local people here can stretch the length of this festival to seven days, as well as hold a variety of events, including costume parade on the fest’s second day (on Luang Prabang’s main avenue, from Wat Pha Mahathat to the main temple of Wat Xieng Thong).
Luang Prabang is the most exciting place to celebrate Boun Pi Mai in Laos
The Royal Palace Museum is another must-visit attraction where plenty of ritual traditions are held to celebrate Boun Pi Mai. Or else, you can get to Hat Muang Khoun sandbar to see the sand stupas decorated with flowers and hand-painted lags. Here, you can make merit and sprinkle river water on each other.
Finally, you should better plan a trip to Laos during Boun Pi Mai to join this uniquely special festival. Let’s see our best deal of Lao tours here.
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