I had a chance to attend a Baci Ceremony on Saturday, and a Baci is used for many special events, but it’s sometimes called Sou Khuane which we often hear in events such as a Lao Traditional Wedding, a homecoming, after a birth of a new born and the Baci is for both the mother and the baby, recovering from an illness, and many more. The one I attended was for a new born.
An important item for this ceremony is the Phakhuane, which is made from fresh banana leaves (can use green decorated color paper to substitute), cut and folded into cone shape, and decorated with fresh flowers, silk flowers, or plastic flowers. Since I was from out of town, I got there the day before, sort of, if you would call 2 am Saturday morning. I had a few hours of sleep, and got up early to help prepare the food. I also helped to decorate the Phakhuane, this one is decorated with fresh flowers, and the Phakhuane is made out of thick green paper to substitute for the traditional banana leaves. Around the base of the Phakhuane is the food for Khuane (Spirit), there are hard-boiled eggs that symbol the fetus, fruits, sweets and rice, a bottle of whisky for purification, and boiled whole chicken with head and feet intact for divination.
The Baci ceremony begins with Mor Phon, a person that performs Sou Khuane ceremony, he would take the white thread that’s connecting the Phakhuane, and give one end to the mother and the other to the father of the child, the baby is present at the Baci ceremony, the couple whilst holding the white thread in the palm of their hands in a Wai position, which is the upside down Y shape.
Mor Phon then closes his eyes and begins the ceremony of Sou Khuane by citing chant verses, very poetic in nature, this ceremony was about 30 minutes long, and at the closing of the ceremony, the crown of families and friends join in and say, “Khuane Aeh Ma Deh”, meaning “please come, spirit come.”
Mor Phon then does the honor of tying the white blessing stings on the baby’s wrists, then the parents’ wrists called Phook Ken, after he finishes, then everyone joins in to tie the baby and the couple’s wrists, and whilst doing so, they would also give blessing. I saw several people that roll up money and tie it on the white string, to give as a gift. The symbolic of sting tying is for good luck and a blessing, then friends and families tie strings for one another for good luck.
The best part is the food, as Laotians know how to wine and dine their guests.