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EVENTS & FESTIVALS IN SAVANNAKHET
Almost every month of the year there is either a local festival or celebration in Laos. The word for festival in Lao is boun, which also means doing good things in order to gain merit for subsequent lives. If you are in Savannakhet while any of the festivals are taking place you will surely be welcomed and asked to join the fun. Please feel free to participate, however remember that most of the festivals are based on religious beliefs, so your hosts will appreciate it if you respect local codes of behavior.


Main Event Schedule
Boun Pha That Ing Hang  (Ing Hang Festival)
Boun Pha That Phonh (That Phon Festival)
Boun Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year Festival)
Boun Phavet-Elephant Parade and Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)
Boun Suang Heua (Boat Racing Festival)
Boun Heuan Hin (Heuan Hin Festival)
January
February
On 14th -16th April
May-June
October-November
October-November

Boun Pha That Ing Hang (Ing Hang Festival)
The ritual ceremony is annually performed  in the That Ing Hang ("Ing Hang Stupa"), one of the most sacred stupa in Southern Laos. It is said there are some Buddha born inside the stupa.  In December, people organize a festival to show their respects to Buddhism and to the people who built this stupa.  Many people, including the old and young, come to the festival from South and North of Laos as well as from Thailand.

People make offerings of "Khan Markbeng", a small green tower-like offering goods made by banana leaves, and flowers around the stupa. People ask nuns who are around the stupa for blessing them. The nuns give blessing to people by tying cotton strings to their wrists. Local people bring forest products like honey and traditional foods for the offerings.


Boun Pha That Phonh (That Phonh Festival)
This festival is performed for 3 days and 3 nights. There are different exhibitions of traditional goods, sports events, folk songs etc. Local people will bring baked rice balls in front of the stupa and made alms to the spirits of people who built this stupa. The number of rice balls will be about 400 pieces in total. Also each family who is producing rice needs to bring raw rice and cooked food trays to monks. The Monks made alms to the spirits too. The raw rice will be around 12 kg and number of trays will reach to 166.

Boun Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year Festival)
For the Lao New Year, there are festivals in all over Laos. The festival aims at farewelling an old year and welcoming a new year. In Savannakhet province, the biggest festivals are held in the Savannakhet City. One of festival activities celebrating New Year is Nang Sangkhan (Miss Lao New Year): The most beautiful girl will be selected as a Miss Lao New Year. Miss Lao New Year parades around the Savannakhet city on the back of artificial mock-up of an animal. Animal is changed in every year based on the historical story.

Some families organize "baci" ceremonies; big arches made by rice plants in order to show their respects to the earth and sky as well as to the land spirits who facilitate rice production. People splash or pour fragrant water with flowers to other people passed by to wash bad things out from their bodies.
Also at temples, Buddha statues are brought outside from the temples and people come to pour water on the statues. It is said that if people pour water in 9 temples, people can get good luck for the year.

Boun Phavet-Elephant Parade and Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)

Boun Phavet festival of Keng Kok village Champhone District. There are many activities. A traditional dance named "Sualakhang (traditional dance)" is performed in circle. Men wear Lao traditional women's clothes and cosmetics. They tie their clothes each other. In the afternoon, people take artificial elephant and horse mock-ups around the city. Also in the afternoon, each village prepares rockets and rocket competition is held. The village which launched its rocket to the highest up in the sky will be the winner. The rocket competition is held for showing their appreciation to "Payathan" who lives in the paradise and gives people rains for agricultures.  The village is about 56 km from Savannakhet City. You can go there by hiring motorbike or car in about 1 hour.


Boun Suang Heua (Boat Racing Festival)
This festival is annually organized to express people's appreciation to the Mekong River for supporting their life. The ceremonies are taken place at the Mekong river bank and each temple. Xayaphoum temple is the main temple which organizes boat racing.

On the first day in the early morning Buddhists gather at each temple and give alms to monks and in return monks bless people. Then, in the morning, people organize traditional dances like “Lao Soung”, “Lao Therng”, and “Pouthai”.  Each group enjoy with diffident clothes in different dance styles.

On the same day in the evening people gather again to temples and parade around the temple three times following monks with candles.  After the parade, some groups prepare "Lay Huapi", long boats made by bamboo and banana trees, and put them on the river.  In the boats, people put cakes, foods, flowers, and many colored candles for decoration. Also some people prepare "Katthong", smaller boats made by banana trees, and put candles on them. On the first day at around 11:00AM, a boat racing ceremony starts at the river bank. First, Lao side and Thailand side invite boats from other banks each other. Then boat racing starts. The boats from other districts of Savannakhet race each other. Only winners can race on the next day.


Boun Heuan Hin (Heuan Hin Festival)
The festival is held in Heuan Hin ("Stone House"), another important sacred place date back to the Khmer Empire. People organize the festival to show their respects to ancesters. In the morning, there is a Buddhism ceremony. In the ceremony, monks do offerings to a person that built this building. So many people gather to the place from neighboring areas and Savannakhet city.

People also enjoy shopping of local products.  At night, they have a traditional dance called "lamvong", men and women make a big circle and dance together until a song is finished.
 
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