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Three countries may celebrate Lao New Year in Champassak

Tourism officials from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam may be invited to celebrate Lao New Year ( Pi Mai Lao ) on the streets of Champassak province over the holiday, which takes place from April 14-17.

An official from the provincial Department of Information, Culture and Tourism, Ms Mala Chanthalam, told Vientiane Times on Monday the Lao Brewery Company will arrange for pipes to be placed along the streets of the provincial capital so that revellers have plenty of water to spray throughout the festival period.

Funded by the company, the water is expected to be turned on from 7am to 5pm, and everyone can join in and have fun free of charge.

Tourism authorities are preparing for Lao New Year by organising traditional festivals that showcase Lao culture. These include a Nang Sangkhan (Miss Pi Mai Lao) contest, a fashion show featuring traditional clothing styles, a trade fair, and a wedding registry.

Ms Mala said they would invite officials from neighbouring countries to take part as Champassak is a popular place for visitors, especially for people from Thailand.

This is just a departmental plan which will not be officially proposed at a meeting. If the provincial authorities agree with the plan, tourism representatives from the three countries will be invited to Champassak.

I believe a lot of Thai people will come here for the traditional water festival, as we've been announcing it on the radio from the start of the month, she said.

As many people know, the province boasts two notable landmarks - Khonphapheng waterfall and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vat Phou Champassak.

The Meteorology and Hydrology Department is expected to forecast temperatures of 39C and 40C over Lao New Year. During the heat waterfalls such as Nheuang, Fan, Phasuam, Nong Luang and Champee Nang Sida will all be very popular with both locals and foreign visitors.

The hot weather makes it the perfect time for water fights, singing, dancing, feasting and general merriment. Everyone has lots of fun and a great time as the jokes fly and friendships are renewed.

Younger people pour water on older people as they wish them prosperity and a long life. In addition, houses, objects of worship, animals and agricultural implements are washed with perfumed water.

Lao New Year is the biggest traditional festival in the country and almost always takes place over three days, from April 14-16.

April 14 is traditionally the last day of the year and is called Meu Sangkhane Pai. April 15 sits between the old and new years and is called Meu Sangkhan Nao, while April 16 is the first day of the New Year and is known as Meu Sangkhan Kheun.

On April 15 everyone visits their friends or goes to the temple to wash statues of Buddha. On New Year's Day, people offer food to monks, listen to sermons about Buddha, eat food to bring good luck, pay homage to their parents and elders, and hold baci ceremonies to wish one another good luck in the new year.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update April 09, 2013)

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