April 15, 2012

Lao New Year To-Do Checklist

No doubt Lao New Year is a busy but fun time.  However, your Lao New Year isn't fully complete if you haven't completed all (or some) of the following.  Check to see how many items you've completed.
Here's our checklist:
  • Go to the temple ceremony and dtak baaht (ceremonial prayers and water pouring).
  • Go to the temple and paeyn (give food to the temple and have lunch with other lay followers).
  • Pour water or annoint the Buddha statues at as many temples as you can find.  Pray and make wishes as you do it.
  • Clean up your house.  Re-arrange things.  New Year means new changes.
  • Bring together all the Buddha statues and amulets you have in your home.  Next to your collection, place a bowl with water, add parfume and flowers.  Make a prayer.  Use this water to bless your home, your family and friends who visit.
  • Soma pau mae.  Perform the family ritual of giving thanks to your parents, pay homage to them and allow them to bless you.
  • Attend a Lao New Year party with friends and family.
  • Visit the gravesite of loved ones.  Give a prayer, ask for their blessing and leave an offering.  And clean up around the tombstone or tat.
  • Participate in the big water fights called boon haut nam, Water Festival.  This is a part of the official celebration.  It was originally meant to annoint loved ones but it's grown into something more and much bigger.  Now you can throw water at anyone at almost anywhere during these times in Laos.  Though keep safety in mind!  In some parts of the city it may be banned.
  • Attend the Lao New Year procession, if there is one in your city.
  • Attend the Miss Lao pageant or at least find out who won, if there is one in your city.
  • Obtain lucky bracelet strings from the temple.  Ask for some bracelets and leave an offering when you do take some.  Use those bracelets to tie them on to the wrists of your loved ones.
  • Take pictures of all the festivities!
On a more serious note, behind all these festivities, Lao New Year is about cleansing oneself, letting go of previous year's issues and negativity, and praying for positive new beginnings and good luck for oneself and your loved ones.

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