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Nonhinhae village to organise biggest rocket festival

Nonhinhae village in Feuang district, Vientiane province will organise what has been called ‘the biggest rocket festival ever' on Saturday (May 25).

The biggest rocket set to be fired into the sky at the weekend festival has been described as the biggest ever fired in Laos. It is less than three hours drive from Vientiane to the district.

News about the festival, locally known as boun bang fai teu has spread to many places across the province and Vientiane through advertising posters attached to objects along the streets announcing the festivities.

Information provided by the district's Information, Culture and Tourism Office confirmed details about the weekend festival and stated that it is the biggest ever hosted by the district – perhaps nationwide.

“It has even been said that it is the biggest rocket festival ever hosted in Laos,” the office observed.

“A crane will be used to lift the rocket onto the launch pad because it will not be possible for people to lift it on,” an official of the office told the Vientiane Times .

He explained that this year's significant event is because more and more Buddhists are coming in from elsewhere to join with the organisers as they increasingly recognise and respect the village temple's abbot.

Many big rockets will be featured in the event, which will run from early morning until late afternoon.

The rocket festival is an annual event which has been practiced for generations. Traditionally, the rocket festival is held in either May or June.

It is believed that the festival is organised to ask for rain so that farmers can begin rainy season rice planting. The rockets are fired to let the rain god Phaya Thaen know it is time to send the rains.

The festival's celebrations typically include music and dance performances that accompany the rocket processions on the way to the launch pad where they will be fired into the sky. This is a competition, however, and the winner is the builder of the rocket which goes the highest. The downside is that the designers of failing rockets are thrown in the mud or a pond.

Many villagers get together to fire the rockets into the sky, while those on the ground celebrate by drinking, singing and dancing. Recalling the fertility rite origins of the rocket festival, parade ornaments and floats often sport sexual imagery and male participants often dress as women .

Food venders also set booths for visitors to experience the taste of local food, while enjoying the festival. However, the visitors are recommended not to get close to the launch pad to avoid any rocket-related accidents.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 22, 2013)


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