Fun In the Sun, Pi Mai Lao style
April is summer in Laos and the time for Lao New Year or Water Festival. It is the perfect time to visit Laos for tourists who are looking for some revelry and fun in the sun. On the traditional Buddhist calendar, Pi Mai Lao falls this year on 12-15 April. Offices are closed, the streets are crowded and a party atmosphere ensues.
The name Water Festival derives from the traditional act of pouring or splashing water on one another as part of a cleansing ritual to welcome the Lao New Year. Traditionally, family and friends gently sprinkle water on one another as a sign of respect and to bestow blessings and good wishes. The practice nowadays, however, is a show of people dancing, drinking and spraying water on strangers and passersby from vehicles in a very boisterous celebration.
Khiri Laos asked one of their employees about his experiences during this fun and important festival.
What does Pi Mai Lao mean to Laotians?
Pi Mai Lao is to welcome the New Year. The locals do this with a special blessing ceremony called Baci in which we pray for good luck to become fortunate, successful and healthy in life. There is a master of ceremony who will be given an offering of five pairs of candles, five kinds of flowers and money wrapped in banana leaves. Elders, such as your mother or grandfather, will tie a white cotton string on your wrist to symbolize continuity and brotherhood. The white string which represents peace, honesty and warmth must be worn for at least three days.
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