Lao Folktales, Lao Tradition, Laos

Lao Folktales – Lao New Year: Nang Sangkaan

Pee Mai Lao or Lao New Year falls on April 13-15, 2009

Sok Dee Pee Mai 2552.  Happy Lao New Year 2009.

This is a story told in Laos to explain why Lao people pour water on each other on the New Year in the fifth Lunar month. The story is called Nang Sangkaan.

The origin of the parade of Nang Sangkaan is not Buddhist, but Brahmanism. Later, Lao people changed the tradition, but kept the idea of carrying the Buddha images and respected persons in the procession and pouring water on them.

Video by ArnuShawn
Translated and description by Nye Noona
Narrated by Mr. Akkasith
Photo by Siriphone Shields and Kevin Borland

13 thoughts on “Lao Folktales – Lao New Year: Nang Sangkaan”

  1. Hi Nye,

    When I was taping this story, I did not understand the question of the riddle at all until I saw your translation. It really shows how rusty my Laotian is, and it also makes me realize it is much harder to do the translation than what I thought. Thanks for your help and all the hard works to make this become reality. I really appreciate. Hopefully, your Laotian audients have no problem understanding Luang Prabang accent.


    1. Hi Shawn, thanks, it has been nice working with you on this, something that I’ve wanted to do for a while but never have the opportunity to do so, and you’ve great skill and talent to bring all this together. The Luang Prabang accent was a bit intimidating to me at first, but it’s easier now after translating 3 folktales.

      I’m not familiar with the story also until I blogged about Nang Sangkaan last year, and found great material on the subject from Seasite Laos, I think without it, I wouldn’t be able to have a full understanding of the story, but Mr. Akkasith story is more relevant to Laos, especially to the Luang Prabang region, and the bird here was vulture, unlike the story from Seasite Laos where it was an eagle, and I think vulture is more accurate to the actually story of Nang Sangkaan.

  2. Happy Lao New Year !!

    Thanks for the video, loves the Xiang Mia series. When I was a child I heard about Xiang Mia from the elder how cunnung hes was , your story bring back old memoires.

    1. Hi salalao, Happy Lao New Year to you and your family. I think the story teller did a good job telling, and Shawn did an excellent job in bringing everything together, so vivid, it’s hard to find something like this to watch this day.

  3. Hi ArnuShawn,

    I just wanted to praise you for a job well done with some of the Lao stories. The Center for Lao Studies is currently working on a Lao Oral History Archive and would very much like to get your feedback on some of our work. Was wondering if you could get in touch with us when you get a chance. Thanks and keep up the good work. Vinya

    1. Hi Vinya Sysamouth, I forwarded your message to ArnuShawn’s email, and hope that he will get in touch with you that way.

    2. Hi Vinya,

      Thanks for the kind words, but the credit should go to Nye and Mr. Akkasith. They are the one that did the excellent job. I was just the person behind the camera.

      Anyway, the LOHA sounds like a big project and interesting. I will contact you via my personal email.


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