EVENTS & FESTIVALS IN CHAMPASACK
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 Champasack 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 Wat Phou (Wat Phou Festival)
Boun Pi Mai Lao ( Lao New Year Festival)
Boun Phavet, Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)
Boun Suang Heua (Boat Racing Festival)
Boun Sang Kiet Ngong (Phou Asa, Elephants Festival )
On 14th -16th April
On end of June to early
BOUN WAT PHOU (WAT PHOU FESTIVAL)
This is the largest festival in the province and one of the largest in the entire country. This festival attracts thousands of the people each year, who gather at the base of the ancient Wat Phou temple for prayer ceremonies and to enjoy the festival.
Boun Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year Festival)
For the Lao New Year, there are festivals in all over Laos. The festival aims at fare welling an old year and welcoming a new year. In Champasak province, the biggest festivals are held in the Paar.
The most beautiful girl will be selected as a Miss Lao New Year. Miss Lao New Year parades around the Pakse city on the back of artificial mock-up of an animal. Animals change every year based on the historical story.
Some families organize "baci" ceremonies; big arches are made of rice plants in order to show their respects to the earth and sky as well as to the land spirits who facilitate rice production. They splash or pour fragrant water with flowers to people passing by to wash bad things 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 all 9 temples, they can get good luck for the year.
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 take place at the Mekong River bank and at each temple. Wat Luang temple is the main temple that organizes the boat racing. On the first day in the early morning Buddhists gather at each temple and give alms to monks and in return, the monks bless the people.
On the same day in the evening people gather again to temples and parade around the temple three times following the monks with candles. After the parade, some groups prepare "Lay Huaphai", 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 in them. On the second day at around 7:00am, the boat racing ceremony starts at the Sedon River. The boats from other districts of Champasack race each other.
This festival is held on the full moon to come morale the speech given by the lord Buddha to 1,250 enlightened monks that gathered spontaneously, without prior notice, and in the evening, people walking arounding the temple with holding candles in this ceremony known as Vien Tian.
BOUN KHAOCHI – A special offering of sticky rice is coated with eggs then roasted and offered to monk. This ceremony is associated with MaKhaboucha.
This festival celebrated the birth, enlightenment and death of the Lord Buddha. It is held on the 15th day of the sixth lunar month Beautiful.
ROCKET FESTIVAL (BOUN BANG FAI)
During this exciting festival, giant rockets constructed out of bamboo are shot in to the sky making quite a spectacular site and a lot of loud bangs. Each village traditionally takes its rocket to the temple first, making offer, before setting it into the sky.
BOUN KHAO PHANSA
This the festival, held on the full moon, marks be beginning of the Buddhist Lent, a three month period where monks are required to stay within their Wat (temple) to meditate and focus on drama studies. Lao men are traditionally ordained as monks during this time.
BOUN KHAO PADABDIN
Special offerings are made to the deceased on the new moon of the 9th lunar month.
BOUN KHAO SALAK
Offerings including daily necessities such as books, pens, sugar and coffee are made to specific monks based on a lottery system. Laypeople also give beautiful wax flower candles to the monks to gain merit.
BOUN OK PHANSA
Held on the full moon which marks end of the rainy season, monks who were ordained for the three month Lent period leave the temples and rejoin their families Banana leaf boats called Heua Fai are launched on rivers with offerings of incense, candles and small amounts of money to bring luck and prosperity.