I should say ‘Souksan Vanh Pee Mai’ or Happy Lao New Year everyone.I told my co-workers that we’re having our Lao New Year next week, and they were very confused, one said that “I thought you just had one.”I just had two (I corrected her), one on January 1st, then another on February 7th for Chinese New Year, this one is Lao New Year, usually celebrate in April.
Last year I visited a local temple and what I found fascinating were the sand stupas, which are decorated with flags, white lines, and people would splash or pour perfumed water on them and as part of merit making, I donated money to help buy the sand. I asked the local monk about it, and he said that the sand stupas symbolize the mountain of Phoukao Kailat where King Kabinlaphom’s head was kept by his seven daughters (the monk sort of grinned at me because he knew that my dad has eight daughters, he is probably thinking one daughter too many.)
He explained that many of the practices such as pouring water over Buddha images, monks’ hand, or splashing water for festive and fun all came about from the story of King Kabinlaphom.I vaguely remembered the story (read the story of Nang Sangkaan) as to why or how his head got cut off but his severed head was kept in a cave, and his 7 daughters (representing 7 days of the week, I believed) would visit their father’s head every year and perform a ritual for prosperity, and it’s right before the farming season therefore asking for good season of rain as well.
Below are photos of Lao New Year 2007 celebration at Wat Sayaphoum, known for its best Pali school in the city and it’s located in Savannakhet, Laos (photos by Savannakhet at Flickr.)Savannakhet is also where the second Lao-Thai Friendship Mekong Bridge crossing at Savannakhet, Laos and Mukdahan, Thailand.
As for Nang Sangkaan pageant, there are seven contestants; each one represents one of the King Kabinlaphom’s seven daughters.
The water splashing is welcoming because it’s extremely hot in Laos.I believed this is also in Savannakhet, Laos, celebrating Songkran in Lao style, seems like loads of fun.
Sabai Dee Pee Mai, and Happy Lao New Year to all, have fun and stay safe.