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That Luang celebrations highlight Visit Laos Year 2018

The That Luang Festival is extra special this year as it anticipates Visit Laos Year 2018, aiming to spotlight Lao culture, tourist attractions and the local  lifestyle to the eyes of the  world.
The festival is held annually with celebrations lasting for at least three days and culminating on the 15th full moon day of the 11th lunar month. This year the festival will be officially observed from October 28 when Visit Laos Year 2018 also officially starts.

The That Luang stupa, a symbol of Buddhism considered a sacred place by Lao people.   
 --Photos Khamphan

On October 27, there will be a That Luang stupa consecration ceremony, followed by various religious and traditional ceremonies from October 31 to November 3. This year’s wax castle procession will start at Vat Simeuang and proceed to That Luang temple on November 2.  A traditional game of tikhy and the final candlelight procession around the stupa will take place on November 3. The stupa is located in Thatluang-neua village, Xaysettha district. Every November, the colourful That Luang festival is staged to celebrate the stupa with people participating in traditional activities and ritual ceremonies such as the wax castle procession, almsgiving, tikhy (a traditional hockey game), and candlelight processions to venerate the stupa and honour King Xaysetthathirath.
The colourful wax castle procession starts at Simeuang temple because it was built under the orders of the great king and is considered home to the city’s founding pillar, and therefore one of the most important sites in Vientiane.
This year’s activities will be more colourful, and meaningful, with a stronger focus on Laos’ ancient culture, traditions and lifestyle.
Hundreds of stalls set up by every province will display their ‘One District, One Product’ items such as traditional clothes, silk fabrics and various handicrafts.
In addition, there will be stalls selling Malaysian and Sri Lankan products.
Meanwhile, the central stage will feature cultural performances from across the country.
Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Soun Manivong, said this year’s festival would be more colourful than in previous years and visitors should keep the celebrations traditional.
“This year’s festival is very meaningful because it anticipates all of the activities that are being planned for Visit Laos Year 2018,” he said.
Everyone is invited to take part in the celebrations and enjoy making merit. That Luang is a sacred stupa and a symbol of Lao culture and unity, as well as being the centre of Buddhist faith in Laos.
Mr Soun, who is also Deputy Head of the Subcommittee of Information and Culture, urged people to keep the celebrations traditional, show respect to the stupa, and to dress suitably.
The Pha That Luang, or great sacred stupa, was originally built during the reign of King Xaysetthathirath in the middle of the 16th Century.
It has long been the national symbol and is of one the most important monuments in Laos. It is a sacred site because people believe the stupa enshrines a relic of the Lord Buddha.
It is also among the most significant tourist attractions and features some of the oldest archaeology in Vientiane and the country.
It is a religious and cultural centre which can teach people about Laos’ unique ancient culture, architecture and history.
The stupa was originally built in the 3rd Century at the same time as the city of Vientiane. The original structure, which was made of stone and very small, was built to house some bones belonging to Lord Buddha.
The stupa was renovated on the orders of King Xaysetthathirath when he moved the Lao capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in 1560.  The king led his citizens in enlarging the Pha That Luang in 1566 and the original was covered with a larger stupa. From then on the monument took the name Pha That Luang or Grand Stupa.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update October 26, 2017 )


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