Buddhism, Holiday, Lao Folktales, Lao Tradition, Thai Tradition

Sok Dee Pee Mai and Happy New Year

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. This video was made for last year’s Lao New Year, and originally posted here.

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

As for the Lao/Thais, the new year has just begun, at Leaps ‘n Bounce, we are moving into the year of the Tiger, a turbulent year and a year of change. I keep telling myself that change is good, and if it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger and sometimes I have to view life from a different perspective.

The Songkran Festival is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day, which originally was celebrated only in the north of Thailand, and was probably brought there by the Burmese who adapted it from the Indian Holi festival.  It is also known as the water festival in Laos and Thailand.  The term Songkran comes from Sanskrit ‘Sankranta,’ which means ‘a move or change’ and  in this case, the move of the sun into the Aries zodiac.

As for our family, it is a tradition to visit our local Wat (Buddhist Temple) to pay homage to the Lord Buddha and offer food to the monks.  These were last year’s photos, I’m hoping to be able to do a video and photos this year.

A tradition of building Jaydee Cide or sand stupas is another thing that I’m looking forward to and it is still very fascinating to me. When you do build one, make sure you make a wish and donate the good merits to your passed loved ones, a remembrance of them on this special day.

14 thoughts on “Sok Dee Pee Mai and Happy New Year”

  1. Nye – Sok Dee Pee Mai! Nice to read the reason behind the festival and where it came from. I have witnessed the Songkran a couple of times in Bangkok, many many years ago. Once, I got so wet with the icy cold water (some use ice water) with the extremely hot, humid weather..I got home and was sick for a few days! LOL! Also, at that time, they were throwing bucket loads of water scooped from the murky streams, runoff from Mekong and whatever residuals.

    Look forward to this year’s photos and videos. Have a fun time with your family and friends on this very auspicious Lao tradition New Year.

    1. Hi Victor, thanks, we normally have a family get together at the local temple, many of my sisters can’t be there because they live in NY. I think they play kind of rough these days, I’ve heard of ice water and this year’s political situation can dampen the holiday spirit. At our temple, they play with shaving cream, this can get messy. I’ll post photos and video the beginning of next week.

  2. Our Lao New year is nice. It’s a peaceful time, and luckily it’s in the spring. It’s our chance to talk to Lao elders, family, friends and hang out with the Lao community for a day. We’re lucky that you never forget to post at least something about the Lao New year because if you didn’t many of us might just go on living or working and forget the start of critical holiday. A holiday that is connected to our blood. I mean, it’s more important than something like Easter or Halloween.

    I’m going to get some blessed water, plucks some flower and dip them into the water and sprinkle them on my bed, car, cat, yard, bedroom walls, religious statues or everywhere where I want to start over. Best wishes for the start of the Tiger year for everyone.

    1. Zeddicus, I post for those that are not connected to the Lao community, one being my oldest sister that lives in NYC. I used to not know when the local temple celebrate the holiday, but the last few years they gave out a calendar with a list of holidays so there is no excuse of not knowing. We’re expecting a nice weather here, so I’m looking forward to that.

      If you do get some blessed water, save some for your ghost emergency, you never know when you would need it. And Sok Dee Pee Mai to you and your family. 🙂

  3. Happy Lao New Year to you & the family. I will also be at the temple with mom. Bringing donations, sending prayers and more. Hope it doesn’t rain this weekend.

    Looking forward to your celebration photos too!

    1. Hi Cambree, thanks and Happy Lao New Year to you and your family. There’s going to be lots of photos, the tulips are in bloom now at Biltmore and a good chance that we’re going on Saturday. It’s going to be sunny and warm for us this year so I can’t wait to take some pictures.

    1. Hi pnlis, Happy New Year to you and your family. We only celebrated Chinese New Year when we were living in NYC, but since we moved down here, we celebrate Lao New Year every year. I’ll take lots of picture to share. 🙂

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