Every year, in the mid-December of the Buddhist calendar (usually in November or sometimes also in October of Solar calendar), the Lao people from all over the country flock to Vientiane – the capital of Laos to take part in That Luang festival. This is a Buddhist festival in Lao and also the largest national festival of the year. The festival is held at Pha That Luang during the full moon of December of Lunar calendar.
That Luang ceremony
With the architecture carrying many Lao cultural features, Pha That Luang is a national symbol of Laos. Every year, That Luang festival is organized here. This festival has religious, cultural and historical significance. During the festive days, all the ways to Pha That Luang are shining with light, candlelight. Pha That Luang is also lit and decorated with flowers on the tower. All the sparkling images combined with the vaporous moon creates magical and sacred atmosphere.
That Luang festival lasts for a week, but in reality, the main part of the festival with the purpose of praying for peace and happiness just starts from the afternoon of December 13 with the procession of Phasat Pheung. This ceremony ends on December 15 with the Taak Baat (giving alms). The ceremony is followed by the festivities that last for a week. With this part, the locals mainly organize entertaining activities in various forms.
As usual, the procession of Phasat Pheung will begin at Wat Si Muang, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Laos. The Phasat Pheung procession is one of the main parts of That Luang festival. Architectural models are carried from the starting point to Pha That Luang in the morning the following day.
In the morning of December 15, after Taak Baat, laypeople give offerings to the monks as the accumulation of good works for the next incarnation. On this occasion, the monks throughout Laos will come here and sit along the two sides of the roads to Pha That Luang to receive various offerings such as cake, candy, sticky rice and money from Buddhists.
The last night of Boun That Luang is on December 15. At this time, the candle procession is held. The participants hold a lit candle and go around the grass cover of Pha That Luang three times. The Laotians believe that if circulating Pha That Luang, they will prolong their lifespan by 30 years.
That Luang festivities
The festival is where various forms of entertainment are arranged, from cuisine to culture, arts, sports, exhibitions and trade. In addition, That Luang festival is timed to coincide with an international fair. is also the time of the International Fair, which attracts a lot of people to participate.
In the performances, the Laotians pay attention to showing famous folk songs and dances bringing characteristics of Lao customs. Some of the typical ones are Lam Luang and Lam Vong, which are also accompanied by flute, khene and drum. They contribute to creating the fun atmosphere with full of excitement.
Besides That Luang, Laos has many other festivals such as Khun Khao, Bang Fay and Suang Huea. If having a trip to Laos, you should take part in Lao festivals to get more understanding about their cultures and customs.