Pimay - The Lao New Year
Every year, from 13th to 16th April
The 5th Lunar month of the Buddhist calendar is in April, when there are the New Year festivities, during which, there is the water festival. This lasts 3 days, the last day of the year, the neutral day, and the first day of the next year. During this period, many flowers have opened, especially the small Lao orchids, which normally flower, for just one week, during Pimay !
During these 3 days of festivities, everybody throws water at each other. Historically, only women had the right to throw water on men, but what used to be a tradition and a symbol, has become a sort of huge carnival. The Laos (and the Thais) use plenty of pieces of coal, flour and dyes, to mark the participants of this festival.
On the morning of the first day is the huge market which assembles all the small tradesmen of the region who have prepared makeshift shelters. All the inhabitants of the Province of Luang Prabang are there. The town is jubilant.
Pimay is the opportunity to go to an island, formed by the Mekong which is very low at this time of the year. There its festival time. The Laotians build sandcastles to hold their wishes for the new year. They enjoy bathing themselves in the Mekong, they wash themselves there, which signifies that mistakes are behind them and that good luck and protection are requested for the coming year.