Pimai Lao/Lao New Year
Date: 13 –16 April 2023
Lao New Year begins at the same time each year and lasts for three days (April 14th-16th). It is one of the most important dates in the calendar as well as being a time of celebrate and endless fun. The festival is held before the onset of the rainy season to recognize the importance of water in people’s lives. It has also become synonymous with holiday, the celebration of Lao identity, the reinforcement of family bonds and an opportunity to reflect on the year ahead. Lao New Year celebrate in all Provinces, especially in Luang Prabang Province and Vientiane Capital. It is also a purification festival during which the Buddhist images in the household and the temples are ritually cleaned with sacred water.
The first day (14th) is the last day of the old year. House and villages are properly cleaned on the first day. Perfume, water and flowers are also prepared for the Lao New Year. Buddhist images are taken out of the temples to be cleaned with scented water by devotees, and placed on special temporary altars within the compounds of Vats (temples). Devotees gather the scented water falling of the images to take home and use it to pour on friends and relatives, as an act of cleansing and purification before entering the New Year. The second day (15th) of the festival is the “day of no day”, a day that falls in neither the old year nor the New Year. The last day (16th) of the festival marks the start of the New Year. In the evening of the 16th, the images are returned to their proper shrines within the temples. Throughout the three days of the festival, a lot of meaningful and joyful activities are held nationwide, mainly basic or Soo Kwan (tying cotton strings around people’s wrists), water splashing, sand stupa building and a beauty pageant.