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Festivals in Laos 2013

There are lots of festivals during the year in Laos. The festivals, called “Boun” in Lao, are connected with historical events, Buddhist religion, traditions, rice-farming cycle. The timing, except for historical events and Hmong New Year Festival, is calculated according to the Buddhist lunar calendar.

In January 2013:
- 1st: International New Year Day.
- 20th: National Military Day.
- In mid-January: Boun Khoun Khao, Boun Khoun Lane or Harvest festival. The ceremony is performed in the rice fields in villages, giving thanks to the spirit of the land.

In February 2013:
- 7th: Boun Makhabusa or Boun Khao Chi (“Bread made of sticky rice Festival”), a Buddhist Festival. It is to commemorate the day when 1.250 disciples of Lord Buddha gathered to listen Dharma of Lord Buddha after his enlightenment. In Champassack Province, Vat Phou Festival is held on this day during the 3rd full moon of the lunar calendar on the grounds of the enchanting pre-Angkorian Wat Phou ruins in Champassack. The festivities consist of elephants racing, buffaloes fighting, cocks fighting, traditional Lao music and dance performances. There is a trade fair of products coming from southern Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. On the same day, in Khammoune Province, there is Si
khottabong Stupa Festival. The traditional religious festival is to celebrate the Sikhottabong Stupa, originally built by the King Nanthasen in between 9th-10th Century. The festival is held at Sikhottabong Stupa at about 8 Km to the south of Thakhek city.

In January, February and March, each Buddhist temple, depending on its occasion, celebrates once a year Boun Phavet Sandone or Buddha’s reincarnation Festival.

In March 2013:
- 8th: International Women Day.
- 22nd: Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Day.

In April 2013:
- 14th – 16th April: Boun Pimai Lao, Lao New Year Festival or known under “Boun Hot Nam” (Watering Festival). During this period, people water on each other in the idea of cleaning bad lucks from the past year and wishing good luck for the Lao coming new year. The festival last for three days. 14th: it is the last day of the old year called “Mu Sang Khane Louang”. Houses and villages are properly cleaned. Buddha Statues in temples and in houses were poured with perfumes water and flowers. 14th: it is the second day of the festival, it is the day in between the last year and the new coming year, called "Mu Sang Khane Naow”. People go outside to enjoy the watering festival with friends. 15th: it last day of the festival, it is the first day of the New Year or called “Mu Sang Khane Khun”. In several families, the Bacy Ceremony is organised for wishing good luck.

In May 2013:
- 1st: International Labour Day
- At the beginning of the rainy season around the middle of May, in the Central and Southern of Laos, the Boun Bangfai or the rocket festival is held. The festival is a call for rain and a celebration of fertility. In the morning, a religious ceremony is performed. In the afternoon, people gather in the fields on the surrounding of towns to launch self-made firework rockets. Different communities compete for the best decorated and the highest traveling rocket. Men disguised as women perform vaudeville acts using wooden phalli in order to anger the gods. As revenge, the gods are expected to send thunderstorms. The rocket festivals are organized from place to place to enable greater participation and attendance.
- 24th: Boun Visakhabousa, Visakhabousa Buddhist Festival.This day commemorates the birth, the enlightenment and the death of Lord Buddha on the same day.
- 25th: The first day of the year 2556 of Buddhist Calendar in Laos

In June 2013:
- 1st: International Children Day and National Tree Planting Day.

In July 2013:
- 13th: Birth day of President Souphanouvong.
- 22nd: Boun Khao Phansa. The beginning of Buddhist Lent Festival. During the next three-month period, monks will spend most of their time in prayer and meditation and are restricted from spending nights in other vats.

In August 2013:
- 15th: National Constitution Day.
- 23rd: Liberation Day.

In September 2013:
- 4th: Boun Ho Khao Padabdin. Buddhist Festival. It is an offering ceremony to the dead people. In Luang Prabang, there is a boat racing festival.
- 19th: Boun Ho Khaosalak. Buddhist Ho Khaosalak Festival. It is an offering ceremony to the ancestors and dead parents.

In October 2013:
- 7th: National Teachers’Day.
- 12th: Independent day.
- 19th: Boun Ok Phansa: “End of Buddhist Lent Festival”. It marks the end of the monks’ three-month-fast and retreat during the rainy season. At dawn, donations and offerings are made at the temples. Prayers are chanted by the monks, and at dusk candlelight processions wind round the temples. Concurrently, hundreds of decorated candlelit-floats, made of paper, are set a drift in the rivers. These carry offerings and incense, transforming the river into a fragrant snake of sparkling. This ceremonial part is called Boun Lay Heua Fai. In Luang Prabang, this festival is also celebrated on this day.
- 20th:The biggest event of the “Ok Phansa festival” is the boat racing festival or called in Lao “Boun Souang Heua” on the Mekong river between competing communities in Vientiane Capital.

In November 2013:
- 17th: Boun That Luang or That Luang Stupa Festival. It is a three-day religious festival celebrated at full moon. It gathers thousands of monks, coming from the whole part of Laos and some are from Thailand at That Luang in Vientiane Capital to listen to prayers and sermons chanted by hundreds of monks. During the following days, a fair is held nearby.

In December 2013:
- 2nd: Lao National Day.
- 13th: Birthday of President Kaysone Phomvihane.
- Hmong New Year is celebrated in Oudomxay, Xieng Khouang, Luang Prabang and Vientiane Province between mid-December until January depending on Hmong calendar. The celebration features colorful displays of traditional costumes made from green, red and white silk and decorated with silver jewelry. Live songs, music from traditional Hmong instrument such as Hmong flute and leave blowing are playing. Other festivities include the cotton-ball “Mark Hon” throwing ceremony, ox fighting (in Xieng Khouang), spinning-top racing and crossbow competition.