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Buddhists celebrate Hor Khaopadapdin festival

Many people had a short night on Wednesday as they were up early for the Hor Khaopadapdin festival, rising before dawn to set out small trays of food for the spirits of their deceased relatives.
Most people woke up around 3am in order to catch the spirits before sunrise, going to their village temple to place specially prepared food on the ground, both inside and outside the temple. They also placed food parcels at the foot of stupas and under trees, or hung them up.
Some people put little trays of food outside their houses and silently invited the spirits to receive it.
This heartwarming tradition is based on the belief that it is important to feed the spirits of deceased ancestors as well as spirits that have no family or friends to care for them.
Like most festivals, this one starts with early morning almsgiving, followed by the presentation of offerings to monks throughout the day, and candlelight processions in the evening.
Merit is transferred to the dead by lighting candles and incense sticks and pouring water after giving offerings.
Mr Phouvieng Phoumin who took offerings to Vat Ongteu in Chanthabouly district, Vientiane, said “I follow a lot of the customs involved in this festival. In the early morning I place packets of food around my home along with my family and then give alms and present other offerings to monks.”
“I celebrate this festival every year. It’s good to show love, respect and gratitude to our ancestors and of course we might be rewarded for our good deeds and be blessed with a happy life and a bright future, and live in love, peace and solidarity.”
“So along with other Buddhists in Laos I enjoy this tradition of giving things to monks and making merit for spirits.”
The Venerable Phuangpaseuth of Vat Ongteu said “The Hor Khaopadapdin festival teaches people goodness by thinking about thankfulness and showing gratitude by giving food to our ancestors’ spirits.” 
“People should show respect and gratitude to their parents and elders and thank them by doing something for them on this day, and at other times. On festival days, older people should lead their children in going to a temple to make merit, praying, listening to Dhamma teachings, and meditating. This will help them to become happier,” he explained.
Boun Hor Khaopadapdin is a tradition of longstanding. The festival takes place annually on the 15th waning moon day of the ninth month in the lunar calendar, which occurs at the end of August or the beginning of September.
It is believed that on this day spirits are released from hell and return to Earth for food, and it is important to satisfy their needs.

By Visith Teppalath
(Latest Update August 30, 2019)

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