City ready for That Luang celebrations
This year's That Luang festival is set to be bigger than ever, with hundreds of booths, entertainment into the night, muay Lao bouts and even performing elephants.
Mr Saythong Keoduangdy announces the That Luang festival plans.
Vientiane Vice Mayor, Mr Saythong Keoduangdy, announced the details of the festival at a press conference at the Vientiane Administration Office on Friday, and said the city authorities wanted everybody to enjoy the event while doing their bit to preserve Lao customs.
This year the organising committee will put on a record 150 booths and performances to reflect Lao traditions and culture and is expecting hundred of thousands of visitors from across the country and abroad.
The action will be split between the That Luang esplanade and Lao-ITECC. Events kicked off over the weekend, with stalls and entertainment on offer at both locations.
Under the government's policy on commerce, the best products from each province and each of Vientiane's nine districts will be on display over the festival, at suitable prices for everyday consumers.
Through Vientiane's ‘One District, One Product' policy, each of its districts will put at least five products on display, plus one product from each village in the city and another item from each of the model villages.
Beside local vendors, products from China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and other Asean countries will be up for grabs.
Traditional grilled chicken and khao lam (sweet sticky rice in bamboo) will also be on offer to promote the country's culinary delights.
Entertainment at the That Luang esplanade starts today, with artists from each of Vientiane's nine districts showcasing their skills. On November 13, musicians from the 16 provinces will take to the stage to entertain the crowds.
The standout performance will be on November 16 with artists from six Asean countries and some of the best Lao entertainers set to perform throughout the evening.
Over at Lao-ITECC, local artists will battle it out from November 9 to 16 in the annual Music Challenge, with the winners to walk away with massive cash prizes.
Traditional folk performances will be ongoing throughout the festival at both venues.
As well as music, muay Lao kickboxers will compete at the event and, in a festival first, six elephants will feature in a series of performances at the That Luang esplanade from November 10.
Religion is at the heart of the festival and on November 15 wax castle processions will take place at Vat Simuang, Vat Inpaeng, Vat Ongteu and That Luang itself.
On November 16 the grand wax castle procession will depart from Patouxay monument along 23 Singha Road to the That Luang esplanade, led by monks, government officials and other groups.
The next day 6,000 monks will take part in an almsgiving ceremony at That Luang, with ministers from six Asean countries and Lao government officials to join the occasion.
That night a candlelight procession around the stupa and a firework show will mark the end of the festival.
Mr Saythong said up to 100,000 people were expected at each night of the event.
He urged people to be conscious of their safety and security, keep the festival environment clean, and do their bit to promote Lao culture.
By Sisouphan Amphonephong
(Latest Update November 11, 2013)