HAPPY PI MAI-Lao New Year
April 10, 2011
THE 2011/2554 LAO NEW YEAR (LUNAR NEW YEAR) IS
CELEBRATED APRIL 14, 15, 16.
INDIGO THREADS WISHES OUR LAOTIAN
SABAIDEE PIA MAI.
The yellow tree cluster flowers scent and flower the special anointing water at the Buddhist Temples during the Pi Mai Festival.
SABAIDEE, PI MAI LAO
near and far friends, families, neighbors and friends of friends gather to
celebrate the Lao Lunar New Year with dancing, drinking and good food.
Long white rice noodles are a celebratory food staple. Whenever possible,
Laotians travel to the village where they were born to partake in family
festivities. Beer Lao is an essential beverage choice. Lao-Lao, a
powerful, intoxicating moonshine rice whiskey flows freely. Children have
learned to operate their newly purchased high-powered water guns, perfecting
their aim. Pails of water thrown from the back of pick-up trucks, dousing
everyone in range, give teenagers great pleasure. Many cell phones and
business documents have been destroyed during these indiscretions. Locals
know from experience to wrap anything of importance in a plastic bag for
protection. This ritual is carried to the streets from the temples.
It is a jester of cleansing friends of bad deeds (sins) during the past year and
good luck for the coming year.
Officially, the Pi Mai Festival is April 14, 15 and 16. The dates
vary slightly from year to year according to the lunar calendar. It is a Buddhist Festival and a
public holiday. However, it is
difficult to conduct any business the week before or the week after the
Festival. Laotian families make plans a year in advance for this special event. It is the most important Festival of the year
Pi Mai is a time of spiritual cleansing, an opportunity to mend stranded relationships and to give honor to deceased relatives. The Festival begins at the village temple. The monks anoint special perfumed flowered waters. Visitors then use branches to sprinkle friends and family with this special water. During this time many temples will be visited repeating the same ritual and exchanging good wishes and good luck for the New Year. Buddhist Festivals are the bases for most social interchange in Laos.
SA-BAI-DEE PI MAI, LAO UNTIL NEXT YEAR
These strange looking pods appear during January/February bursting into beautiful clusters of yellow flowers though out the trees (as seem above) just in time for the Pi Mai Festival. After the hard shell pods drop to the ground, children create imaginative toys.
- 30 -