Culture

Elephants in Luang Prabang for new year

16 Apr , 2016   Video

It is Lao New Year now (Pimai), one of the most important dates in the Lao calendar.

Although officially a three-day festival in Luang Prabang, the party always goes on for at least a week.

Officially the last day of the year, 13th April is traditionally a day of renewal, the main symbol of which is water. Buddha images are washed, temples repainted and homes cleaned from top to bottom. In the afternoon, young people pour water on the hands of their elders and ask for their blessing in the year ahead.

The parade yesterday in Luang Prabang for Lao New year

Luang Prabang tourist video

Baci ceremonies are common at new year. For many Lao people, the belief in kwan (spirits which inhabit the human body, as well as animals, plants and inanimate objects) are an important part of the Lao New Year. On the first day of the new year, with transition comes the risk of the kwan leaving the body, exposing them to any number of bad omens. To allow the kwan to return to the body, a ceremony known as a Baci or Soo Kwan is performed.

Offerings are made with participants sitting around a table which include food, and money. A chant led by a village elder is then repeated collectively to call the kwan to return. Participants then tie white thread around each other’s wrists, symbolically binding the kwan to the body, while wishing them good fortune in the year ahead. The ceremony ends by eating a small meal together.

This week a caravan of 7 elephants walking along the main street in Luang Prabang before Pimai.

Elephant Parade video by Jutta

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