Must-do Activities to Celebrate Boun Pi Mai in Laos
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.
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 the Laos New Year Festival.
What is Boun Pi Mai?
As a spiritual custom to generate good fortune for the Lao New Year, Boun Pi Mai takes place annually from the 13th to the 15th of April, in the middle of the hot season. Without fireworks and family fathering, Boun Pi Mai is rather about worshiping the Buddha and splashing water on the 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 cultures, this act of splashing water is a sign of respect during Boun Pi Mai.
Worshiping the Buddha is an important ritual in Boun Pi Mai
Traditional rituals of 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 plenty of things to do.
The first day
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 lectures 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 the Buddha statue in Boun Pi Mai
The second day
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 during the festival, so people can go to the street to enjoy the festive vibe and join some activities.
The third day
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 the 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, turtles, and crab for peace in the upcoming year.
Splashing water is considered as giving good luck in Lao New Year
Things to do in Boun Pi Mai
Join water splashing on streets
It must be a big mistake if you miss out on this highlight of the Lao Water Festival. Don’t afraid to get wet, since it is lucky for those who are poured water onto 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 that brings blessings for luck and happiness in the future.
Visit Buddhist pagodas
During Boun Pi Mai, temples and pagodas are also must-visit sites to get an insight into 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.
Take a tour to Luang Prabang
As mentioned above, Luang Prabang is the best destination to celebrate Boun Pi Mai. Hence, planning a trip to Luang Prabang amid Boun Pi Mai is absolutely a must-do. Local people here can stretch the length of this festival to seven days, as well as hold a variety of events, including a 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 the 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.
- Keep your mobile phones and valuable electronics safe, maybe in a waterproof container
- Don’t throw water on monks, elders, occasional well-dressed women on their way to the New Year Event
Finally, every culture lover should better plan a trip to Laos during Boun Pi Mai to join this uniquely special festival. Let's take a look at our best deal of Lao tours to save for your upcoming trip.
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(Image source: Internet)