Special Traditional Rituals In Laos
Traveling to Laos, which is the Land of Million Elephants, tourists will have a chance to expand their knowledge not only about many ancient pagodas and temples but also about Laos unique traditional rituals
Table of Contents
1. Tak Bat ritual
Tak Bat ritual is a sacred activity in Laos, based on Theravada Buddhist belief. Every early morning, the monks lined up in a long line with bare feet, quietly walking around the streets to collect alms from the people and praying for them. The food is divided into 3 purposes: for the poor, monks' only meals of the day, and a part for pets in the temple or pagoda.
Tak Bat ritual has attracted tourists to Laos for a long time. Especially, when visiting the ancient and peaceful capital Luang Prabang, which is the home of many relics recognized by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritages, tourists should not miss the opportunity to attend this ritual.
Tak Bat Ritual
Tak Bat is a sacred religious ritual, not a form of tourism performance. Therefore, before planning a journey to the Land of Million Elephants get up early to take part in Tak Bat ritual, tourists should take note of the following important information:
- Wearing formal clothing
- Keep quiet, do not speak loudly breaking the sanctuary atmosphere.
- If you want to take a photo, turn off the sound, absolutely do not use the flash, and point the lens straight at the monks' faces.
- Do not touch or follow too close the monks.
- If you decide to participate, make sure that this is meaningful to you mentally. If you only want to experience "for fun", "to know", standing to admire from afar is better.
- Women have to take off their shoes, kneel or sit on a low chair, men can stand but need to bow and wash their hands when offering food, avoid looking directly into monks' eyes.
- If possible, you should go to the local market soon to buy rice or sticky rice from kao kai noi, which is the best rice in Laos.
- The food should be put in baskets or bowls, not in plastic bags
If you are interested in taking part in the Tak Bat ritual, you should consider the Glimpse of Luang Prabang tour!
2. Baci Ceremony
Whenever we mention Laos, we remember the Baci ceremony. This wrist-tie ritual has existed for a long time, it brings the cultural beauty of the Land of million Elephants. The Baci ceremony is often conducted on Bunpimay Festival (Lao traditional New Year) and on other occasions such as weddings, welcome back people after a long time, housewarming parties, etc. This custom is also for close friends with homeowners. Baci is a unique culture, which expresses their friendly with the blessing of peace and luckily.
In the beginning, all people sit around the tray and the ritual owner sits opposite the attendees. The owner lights the candle on the top of the tray and pray. While all the people around hold the cotton strings by the left hand and the right hand touches the tray lightly. Those who sit far away, without reaching the tray, put their left hands on the chests and the right hand touches the elbows of the front person to pass the pray to all the participants.
After the ceremony is completed, the owner will tie the cotton strings for the attendees. This type of string is plaited, tied into a beam on the tray, cut just enough to tie it to the wrist. Then others will also take the strings on the tray and tie them to each other for blessing and good luck. The main guests, the elderly, homeowners, and women will tie the most. According to Laotian, in order for the blessing to be effective, you must not remove the string in three days.
3. Traditional marriage customs
Thap Tham custom: the male’s family asked a matchmaker to arrange marriage with the female’s family. Laotian offering is called Kha Doong that male’s family must give to the female's family. The offering is due to the negotiation of the matchmaker with her parents. In the city, the Kha Doong is usually measured in money or gold. In rural areas, there are both buffaloes and land. It is only required to give on the wedding day and will be told clearly in the official wedding ceremony.
In Laotian custom, the wedding ceremony is only organized in even-numbered months. June is the best month because of Rocket Festival (Bun Bang Fai), which you can have some comparison with rocket festival in Thailand by attending in a Laos - Thailand tour is a held to pray for rain. June is also the last suitable month in a year because from July is the harvest season and August is the first month of the vegetarian period, not suitable for marriage, lasting until the full moon in November. In Laotian belief, a good day for marriage is 15 days before the full moon, implied the relationship between husband and wife will become better and better, beautiful as the moon.
In the ceremony, the leader of the male's family will represent to bless, wave, and tie strings for the bride and groom. After the wedding, the groom stayed in the bride's family to help and become a member of the family.
Marriage in Laos also has a unique custom called kan-xu (pending wedding ceremony). Poor husband and wife can get married, after doing a well-off business, they will hold a wedding following the custom of the village.
4. Traditional funeral
When a person dies, relatives will not cry, only family members such as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands of the dead, sit around the dead to cry to show their love and loss.
If the dead is one of grandparents or parents, the children and grandchildren use coconut water to wash their face, use the dead's hand-print paper to worship. The dead body is scented with fragrant water and put a lightly cent into the mouth, tie a white string to the neck, arms, and legs.
After a few days, brothers, neighbors come to visit, the family will prepare for mourning. This is the most important part funeral ceremony. Besides relatives and family, there were also monks and neighbors. If grandparents and parents pass away, the sons and grandsons from 7 years old will shave their heads and go to the monastery for 5-7 days or a month. According to the Laotian, children who go to the monastery will lead the soul of the dead to heaven. Daughters, granddaughters, or boys who have no conditions for going to the monastery will wear white dresses. The more children and grandchildren go to the monastery, the more merits they will gain for the dead.
In order to select the position for burial or cremation in the graveyard, Laotian people often bounce sticky rice balls or eggs. If the egg or rice ball fall somewhere, they will bury or cremate in that position. If cremation, three days later, the family invites relatives and monks to pick up the bones, put them in the jar of clay, and send them to a tower in the temple to worship.
The Land of million Elephants with many mystic rituals are waiting for you to explore!
Image source: Internet