— Written by David Allan

One of the most important dates in the Lao calendar is Lao New year (known as Pi Mai Lao). It lasts 3 days (14-16th April 2019) and is a time of endless fun and celebration … and water.

Pi Mai occurs before the rainy season starts and recognizes the importance water plays in people’s lives. The new year is a time for purification and to reflect on the year ahead. Buddha images are taken out of temples and cleansed with sacred water. The sacred water is scented with ith perfume and flowers. Over the three days there will be a lot of water throwing, building of sand stupas and a beauty pagnent.

Lao New Year (Pi Mai) 2019 programme

Thursday 11 April
19:30 – 23:00 Beauty contest for Miss Lao New year at That Luang (old stadium)

Friday 12 April
19:30 – 23:00 Beauty contest for Miss Lao New year at That Luang (old stadium)

Saturday 13 April
09:00 Elephant procession “Chang Hieng Koei” from Wat Mai to Wat Xieng Thong

Sunday 14 April
06:00 Market Fair “Lolat” on main street from old Stadium to National Museum (Royal Palace)
09:00 Watering the Buddha image ceremony at every temple in Luang Prabang
13:00 Gather on the beach to make sand stupas “Toppathatsay” to bring good luck.Traditional performances, sports match and dragon fire rocket at mekong River beach, Xiengman Village, Chomphet District.

Monday 15 April
08:00 Textile exhibition at Ban Phanom (Tailue ethnic group)
14:00 Lao New Year procession starts on main street from Wat Thatnoy to Wat Xieng Thong
19:00 Ceremony of watering the Buddha for blessing at every temple in Luang Prabang

Tuesday 16 April
05:30 Alms Giving “Sai Bat” in front of Wat Sene and climbing Phou Si mountain to pay respects
14:00 Lao New Year procession from Wat Xieng Thong to Wat Thatnoy
19:00 Naga and lantern parade comes down from Phou Si mountain to the pond inside the National Museum. Traditional dancing at the museum.

Wednesday 17 April
09:00 The prabang is removed from Hor Prabang inside the National Museum to Wat Mai

Thursday 18 April
08:00 – 23:00 Watering of the Buddha image and traditional dancing at Wat Mai

Friday 19 April
08:00 – 23:00 Watering of the Buddha image and traditional dancing at Wat Mai

Saturday 20 April
09:00 Bringing of the Prabang buddha image back to the national Museum.

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