Champassak to hold manikhot tree festival this week
Champassak provincial authorities have invited devotees from Laos and nearby countries to attend the manikhot tree festival to mark the three year anniversary of the sacred tree's removal from the Mekong to a display pavilion.
The festival will take place near Khonphapheng waterfall on January 14 and 15 and will include an almsgiving ceremony and a candlelight procession.
The event will give devotees the opportunity to pay their respects to the fallen sacred manikhot tree which has been preserved near the waterfall in Khong district, Champassak province.
The tree was removed from a rocky outcrop in the middle of the waterfall in the Mekong River after it fell down during the rainy season in 2012. The following year it was placed in a specially built pavilion. The tree was so highly valued that it was preserved for posterity. It was regarded as sacred and stood on a rock in the middle of the waterfall, reachable only by birds.
According to legend, the manikhot features as a holy tree in the ancient Sanskrit epic of Phra Lak Phra Lam, or Ramayana. A manikhot tree has three limbs; fruit eaten from the first limb will bring eternal youth and long life, while that eaten from the second will bring great power and status. But fruit eaten from the third limb, pointing to the west, brings bad luck and the eater will turn into a monkey.
The origins of the manikhot tree that grew in the Khonphapheng waterfall are unknown but locals say it has been there since they were born. Many people insist it has been standing for at least 500 years since the days of the Lane Xang Kingdom.
Champassak provincial authorities hope that people attending the festival will stay for a while to visit other attractions in Khong district besides the waterfall.
The area is known as Siphandone, literally meaning 4,000 islands. Among the islands, Don Khong is the largest, being 18km long and 8km wide. Not far from the waterfall is the Hangkhone area, where endangered freshwater dolphins can sometimes be seen.
A visit to Champassak also necessitates a visit to the ruins of Vat Phou, a Khmer-style temple. Built in the 5th and 6th centuries AD, Vat Phou is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva and is one of the most significant architectural sites anywhere in Southeast Asia, on par with Cambodia's Angkor Wat.
Vat Phou Champassak lies in the south of Champassak province and is about 800km from Vientiane. The temple complex was designated the second world heritage site in Laos by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 2001, after the historic town of Luang Prabang was named the first world heritage site in Laos in 1995. Both sites are among the country's most popular tourist destinations.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update January 09, 2017)