ORLA TOURS team had to fight with water pistols through the street of it's favorite town to get you nice pictures. During one week, Luang Prabang consists in one huge water battle with local people, but also Chinese, Korean, Indian people... Well, we really enjoyed PI MAI !!
And it seems like a time travel in the future, for occidental people like us, to party for the 2560 year !
What is Pi Mai ?
Pi Mai means new year. This very popular Buddhist tradition is usually celebrated between the 13rd and 16th of April. It also exists in Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar, but it's named respectively Songkran, Bon Chaul Chnam and Thingyan. This year, we celebrate new year 2560 !!
This celebration consists in a huge water fight during this hottest time of the year. It matches with the beginning of the rainy season, which is also when the vegetation starts to grow again.
On the spiritual aspect, these days are the opportunity to look back on what we've done during the past year. You can think about yourself, your mistakes, your success, your failures to go on this new year with a fresh state of mind. It's also the opportunity for families to gather all together. Each member asks for forgiveness to his elders and also to gods for his bad acting or thinking. It's also time for "Baci" ceremonies, which are organized in several houses to give benediction.
Purification & water fights
Water has a major role in many of actions made during this period as it's the symbol of purification. Lao people wash Buddha's statues with water perfumed with saffron flowers. In each temple, there is a 5 meters long gutter installed, it has the shape of a Naga which is the spirit of water. Lao people pour the saffron perfumed water in a wooden swan, which flows through the Naga gutter and the drops on the Buddha Statue.
Local people spray water on monks and their family elders in order to get forgiveness and benediction. Historically, it was also the opportunity for women to water men to show them their place and strength.
Within the time, this Buddhist ritual has also become a huge water fight during a week. Everyone in the town has its own water pistol, you can also see pools along the streets. Flour, charcoal and red taints are here to keep bad spirits away.
New Year in Luang Prabang
In Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, now city of the UNESCO world heritage, Buddhist new year is not just a big water fight. It has succeeded in still being a very spiritual and religious event. There are stunning processions of monks, of people in traditional dresses and also of the most beautiful girls of Luang Prabang.
During these parades, monks, men and women bring presents to the spirits and pray for healthiness, richness, happiness for the new year. Seeing the golden statue of "Buddha Prabang" followed by hundreds of people is a must see.
Several events also take place all around the town. There is a big traditional and ethnic market providing local dishes, handcraft, clothes... The elephant parade is also a great event to see.
On an island on the Mekong, takes place the annual sand Stupa contest !! Once the building finished they set a sign on it showing the 12 animals of the Buddhist calendar. The traditional Ramayana danse is played in the late afternoon.