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Parsing lunar year’s promises, pitfalls as passion for astrological predictions proves persistent

Predictions and probabilities for the coming year are a staple of annual Lao New Year celebrations.

Astrological predictions are generally brief and deal mostly in potentials for rain, weather, agricultural output, economic growth, health and political events within the country.

Mr Khamthone with his lunar calendar.         --Photos Visith

The predictions are made by local astrologists and based on the many established principles of the craft including various arcane rules and steps.
The prediction outlines in general the potential for things that may happen throughout the country and abroad in the year according to the lunar calendar.

Sometimes these predictions come true, other times they do not.
Despite the mixed results and absence of scientific rigor, astrological prediction has been a popular tradition since ancient times and some people continue to believe in it passionately.

Until recent decades there was not the access to modern scientific weather forecasting, satellite imagery or measurements we now enjoy so people followed astrological predictions more rigorously.
Prediction using the astrology was considered as the best basis for planning for the lunar year in what was an overwhelmingly agricultural society.

People could then pursue activities confidently based on the results.
An astrologist who has worked in the method for a long time is Mr Khamthone Phimmasone.
Mr Khamthone said astrologists generally calculated the lunar calendar in advance before the international new year begins in January of each year.

They make predictions for the things that will happen during Lao lunar year which starts in the middle of April.
He also said that the result of prediction of each year is different due to many reasons according to the principles and conditions of calculation.

The prediction is always published on the calendar.
He explained that the marking of Lao lunar year is similar to some neighbouring countries’ styles but it has specific identifying features including the country’s own peculiar traditions of prediction.
Lao people have celebrated the lunar New Year and followed astrological prediction since time immemorial and these traditions have since been passed from generation to generation.

This year, the Lao Lunar New Year celebrations officially took place from April 14-16.
The start of Lao New Year is based on the dates of Choun la Sakkalat year or the Chunla Era (also known as Chor Sor), in which the beginning always falls in the middle of April of each year.
This year, the Lao New Year or Chor Sor started its counting on April 16 (assumed as its day 1), and on this day the year of Chor Sor changed from 1378 to 1379.

It will change again at around the same date of next year.
Meanwhile, the animal marking the Lao traditional new year for 2017 (Chor Sor 1379) is Rooster (Laka in Lao). This is the same as per the Eastern zodiac celebrated in Chinese and Vietnamese New Years and well recognised on the Korean peninsula and Japanese Archipelago.

The prediction for this lunar year made by Mr Khamthone and his colleagues indicates it will rain 300 times in total including 120 in the universe, 90 in Pa Himmaphan (thick forest), 60 in the ocean, and 30 times around the world.
There will be much wind from various directions, so everyone should be careful.
There will be crop pests which may cause the agricultural output to achieve only half of total production.
The rice fields on both flat and high areas will get the same output and fruit trees will give good output.
The May Chuang (Chuang tree) will be the king of trees.
The prediction also indicates that there are seven Nagas playing in the water in this lunar year so there will be less rain and water than last year.

There is also another quite similar prediction that is based on journey dates and times of Miss Lunar New Year, well known as Nang Sangkharn.
Nang Sangkharn are the seven daughters of a god named Phayakabinlaphom who annually take turns to water their father’s head (believed as contained in a holy cave) after the death of Phayakabinlaphom.
Each year, one of Phayakabinlaphom’s seven daughters will represent the others to pay respect to their father, and also worship and place water upon his head.

The seven daughters each have their own different day from Sunday to Saturday respectively.
The appointed daughter travels from heaven and the journey always take 3 or 4 days.
So, Lao people have taken this tradition as lunar New Year celebrations by watering each other since the old days.
With this year’s Sangkharn Luang day or Meulong (the coming day of Miss Lunar New Year) being on Friday, this incident indicated that there will be abundance of rice, water, fruit, and other crops.

In the unfortunate case that Sangkharn Nao day or Meu Nao falls on Saturday, the such would indicate that rice and food would be expensive; there may be peril happening in the cities, so everyone should be careful; high ranking officials may have problems; there may not enough rain and water; and monks and nuns might not be happy.
If Sangkharn kheun day or Meu Sangkardkheun (the returning day of Miss Lunar New Year) was on Sunday, the incident indicated that the leaders will lead the country to be civilized and powerful, good achievements on the country’s administration and cooperation from abroad.

Normally, there are three important days for Lao new year celebration: They are Sangkharn Luang day or Meulong, Sangkhan Nao day or Meu Nao, and Sangkhan Kheun day or Meu Sangkardkheun on which the lunar new counting commences.

Each celestial daughter has specific totems including, food and swords.
This year, Sangkharn Luang day or Meulong (the coming day of Miss Lunar New Year) was marked on Friday.
As such this year was assumed to be the turn of the 6th daughter named Kimithathevy who rode a water buffalo, holding a sword in her right hand and a lute with in her left.

She came in the early morning and her food is water-banana.
Of course, the prediction only foretells the general outline of incidents that may potentially occur happen in the twelve month period.

It certainly does not take into account the National Socio-Economic Development Plan nor the many complexities of the international environment.

However, many folk still feel comfortable with the traditional belief as an accurate enough predictor of the fate of the country as well as in the world, especially in those areas related to the effects of weather and everyday economy.
So, let’s follow with interest this year’s prediction to see how much becomes true or not.

By Visith Teppalath
(Latest Update April 25, 2017 )

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