17 April 2016

Pii Mai 2016: Photo Essay

Pii Mai is the celebration of Lao New Year and is officially celebrated for three days between April 14th to April 16th, although in places, such as Luang Prabang, it consists of a week-long celebration. It begins with the last day of the year (14th April), where houses, Temples, and villages are properly cleaned for the new year, followed by the no day (15th April) and then the start of the new year (16th April). This year, volunteers had the opportunity to participate in a plethora of festivities and engage in the citywide water fight! In this year’s case, a picture is worth a thousand words; take a look at the series of pictures below that reflect the various traditional and contemporary festivities that took place in Luang Prabang!

Volunteers participating in a religious Baci ceremony, whereby Novices and Monks bless the building to rid it of bad spirits for the new year.

With the house blessing concluded, it was the volunteers and community members turn to bless each other, by tying white string around each others wrists and wishing each other  good luck and fortune in the new year.
The following day volunteers were invited to participate in the customary tradition of the Watering of the Buddha at nearby temple Wat Meunna.
With the help of the male volunteers, each statue was carefully taken from inside the temple and placed outside before scented water was splashed on each one.

Volunteers then attended the ceremonial parade along the main street, whereby thousands participate in the transportation of the golden Buddha statue from Wat Mai to Wat Xieng Thong.

Included in the procession were hundreds of Novices and Monks.

Some volunteers were also lucky enough to run into some of their students who were taking part in the parade.
Traditionally, water was sprinkled to bless elders, Novices and Monks. Today, this tradition has evolved in to a country wide, fun-packed festival of water throwing. For several days the streets are lined with people throwing water, coloured dye and flour accompanied by shouts of 'Sok Dii Pii Mai- Happy New Year!'.
Luke T.

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