Traditional celebration marks commemoration of revered king
Rituals, donations, performances, almsgiving and other activities were held last week to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the Chao Fa Ngum statue in Vientiane, attended by hundreds of people.
The celebration was held in a traditional way and was full of meaning, lasting for three days from January 3-5 and attracting people from all over the country.
Event organisers prepare to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the statue of Chao Fa Ngum in Vientiane. --Photos Visith
Devotees were pleased to take part and earned merit by donating food, offerings and money, and giving alms dedicated to the former revered king, Chao Fa Ngum.
There were 29 collections of offerings donated by organisations and individuals from around Vientiane, all dedicated to Chao Fa Ngum and other worthy ancestors.
An almsgiving ceremony for 57 monks took place on the morning of the last day at 7am, drawing a large number of people.
Well wishers stepped forward one by one to give their offerings to monks, hoping their good deeds would reach the former king, who was a key figure in unifying the Lane Xang Kingdom.
The annual celebration was hosted by the Vientiane Department of Information, Culture and Tourism and Sikhottabong district authorities.
The event gave people the chance, especially young people, to learn about the history of their revered ancestors and to pay their respects.
The ceremony is held every year in honour of the former king and his statue in recognition of the king's benevolence and accomplishments.
The event also raises money for the maintenance of the garden surrounding the statue. Chao Fa Ngum Pa rk, in Sithanneua village, Sikhottabong district, was named in the king's honour.
The statue was erected on January 5, 2003 after construction began in 2000.
The statue is also recognised as a place of solidarity and a monument that reminds people to love their country and to commemorate all those who devoted themselves to the country in years past.
Vientiane residents worship the statue daily, bringing flowers, candles, incense and other offerings, and ask for blessings and protection from the king.
Chao Fa Ngum was born in 1316 and died in 1374. He was the 25th monarch of the Lane Xang Kingdom, reigning from 1353 to 1372.
After the king led Lao armies in uniting the smaller cities to the southwest almost as far as Ayuddhaya in present day Thailand, he celebrated his unification in Vientiane.
He established rules of conduct for all future rulers before a grand ceremony to mark his accession to the throne, and was revered as the greatest king t o ever rule the Lao Lane Xang kingdom at that time.
Chao Fa Ngum gave Laos its original borders, which are recognised even today by most Lao people, even though the demarcation took place at the beginning of the 14th Century.
Chao Fa Ngum was a great king of the Lao people. He was the first king to unify the Kingdom of Lane Xang into a single territory. He was also the first king to bring Buddhism to Laos, after which the teachings of the Buddha were disseminated nationwide.
Chao Fa Ngum was a Lao hero who fought to unify and protect the country and initiated many traditions which new generations should learn about and emulate.
Mr Souvannaly Vongsoukha, a member of the organising committee for the anniversary celebrations, said all committee members and participants were very pleased to be a part of the special occasion. It was an important and meaningful activity to mark the anniversary of the statue's installation and to honour and show gratitude to the former king.
“Along with the other committee members and everyone else here, I am happy and proud to be a part of this celebration. This is a good and meaningful time to show respect to the king and dedicate merit to him. We also can dedicate merit to our other ancestors and deceased leaders. There are many rituals taking place to give people the chance to show their gratitude to Chao Fa Ngum for a lifetime of dedication to the country,” he added.
“Chao Fa Ngum is our revered ancestor and people like to show their respect for him. Lao people nationwide love and respect him as a hero who created some fine traditions and unified and protected our country. He ruled the country in a moral and principled manner. He taught people to live with morality and in unity, and to ensure justice. He was a very special person who advanced the country and its people.”
Mr Palamy Sitthikoun, a secondary school student, said it was important to hold a celebration to commemorate, honour and give thanks to Chao Fa Ngum because he worked hard to repel the country's enemies and unified the kingdom.
“As a student, I have learnt a lot about Chao Fa Ngum. He is an idol of the Lao people because of what he did to unify, protect and develop Laos. He was also skilled at politics and martial arts. I think the younger generation and officials should learn about his virtues and follow his example in their daily life and at work. We should continue these anniversary celebrations and do the same again next year. All people should be aware of this celebration, show gratitude and take part,” he added.
By Visith Teppalath
(Latest Update January 7, 2017 )