Lao New Year 2023, also known as Pi Mai Lao, is a traditional festival that celebrates the start of a new year according to the Lao lunar calendar. The holiday is typically celebrated for three days from April 14th to 16th and is the most important festival in Laos. This year it runs from the 11 to 19 April (program below).
The festivities involve various customs and rituals, including water splashing, offering food to monks, and the building of sand stupas. Water splashing is one of the most popular activities during the Lao New Year, where people drench each other with water to cleanse away bad luck from the previous year and welcome the new one with a fresh start.
Another important aspect of the holiday is the offering of food to the monks. Many locals wake up early to offer alms to the monks as a way of making merit and bringing good luck to their families for the upcoming year.
One unique aspect of Lao New Year is the building of sand stupas. Stupas are sacred structures in Buddhist culture that represent the Buddha’s enlightenment. During the festival, locals build sand stupas and decorate them with colorful flags and flowers as a symbol of good luck and prosperity for the year ahead.
The Lao New Year festival also includes traditional music and dance performances, parades, and competitions. People dress in traditional clothing and participate in games and activities with their families and friends. Traditional dishes, such as sticky rice and papaya salad, are also served during the festival.
The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled Pi Mai Lao for the past 3 years, so 2023 is expected to be a massive celebration lasting longer than usual. People gather with their families and friends to enjoy the holiday, and precautions are taken to ensure everyone’s safety.
Overall, Lao New Year is a vibrant and festive celebration that embodies the spirit and traditions of Laos. It is a time to come together with loved ones, make merit, and welcome the new year with optimism and hope for a prosperous future.