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Pimay, Lao new year

3 days, from 14 to 16 April

Lao New Year is the most widely celebrated festival in Laos. When it’s usually celebrated for 3 days in Laos, Luang Prabang celebrates it for almost 1 week.

During this time, we can participate to the festival of water where all the people throw water to each other (with water guns or water bazookas, buckets with colored water). Using water, but also charcoal, wheet and red color to paint the faces, makes this festival a full experience of a south and smiley war.

Pimay, Lao new year in Luang Prabang

The first day, on the morning until miday, a big market take place in the big avenue of Luang Prabang, providing products coming from all Laos and abroad. After lunch, time comes to go to the island close to Ban Xieng Men, where a big party is organized. Lao Buddhist traditionally take a bath in the Mekong River to purify from all the past sins. In the island, people are making sans pyramids, for fortune and luck.

Pimay, Lao new year in Luang Prabang on the 14th April

The 2nd day is the black day, day free years. There, one can legitimately do what you want. We will clean his house, to prepare for the next day, the first day of the year. On this day the grand parade takes place : around 200 monks, and more than 1000 people wearing traditional clothes and costums march to Wat XiengThong, the most holy temple of the town (see pictures).

Traditional costumes during Pimay Lao

The last day of the festival marks the start of the new year. This day many families will hold a Baci at their houses to welcome Lao New Year as well as to wish their elders good health and long life. Some might respectfully ask for forgiveness from their elders for things that they did in the past year that might have hurt their feelings unintentionally. And at the same time they give the elders gifts.

In late afternoon or evening of the last day, in the temples, the Prabang statue is coming back to the Wat Mai. Devotees go there to put religiously water on the holy statue, asking good luck for the coming year. After that, a vien tien – a candlelight procession – takes place around the wat and that is the end of the Lao New Year celebration.