End Of Buddhist Lent - Luang Prabang

End OF BUDDHIST LENT

Boun Ork Phansa “ The End of Buddhist Lent ” and Boun Lai Heua Fai “ Festival of Lights ”

The end of Buddhist Lent, known as Boun Ork Phansa, is a vibrant celebration marking two significant occasions: the conclusion of the three-month retreat for monks and the arrival of the dry season. This joyful festival, coinciding with the full moon of November in the Buddhist calendar, is one of the twelve traditions and fourteen customs celebrated throughout the year. It spills over into the following day with the enchanting Lai Heua Fai, also known as the Festival of Lights.

Festivities Date and Celebrations:
Once a year, The end of Buddhist Lent begins on the full moon day of August and ends on the full moon day of November of the Buddhist calendar. It is a period of retreat for monks. It lasts three months during this lent, the monks are committed to observing the triple obligation called ''Traisikkha'', that is to say: Sin (morality), Samathi (meditation) and Phangna (knowledge).

Preparation and Traditions:
The religious ceremony of this day “Ork Phansa” takes place very early in the morning in the pagoda sanctuary where only the monks gather.

To perform the rite of Ork Phansa, the lay people dressed in their most beautiful clothes; the women dressed in traditional Lao silk skirts with the scarf on the left shoulder as well as the men put the scarf on the same side as the women, participate in the traditional TakBat ceremony (offerings to monks) carrying the silver cup containing offerings; the faithful place the offerings in bowls placed on a tray made of woven plant fibers which they will then bring to the monks and novices.

Celebrating the Festival of Light:
As night falls, the spirit of celebration takes flight with Lai Heua Fai. Sacred spaces and homes glow with the gentle flame of lanterns and candles, their light beckoning like wishes whispered to the stars. Handcrafted paper Nagas, serpentine symbols of prosperity, parade through the streets of Luang Prabang before setting sail on the Mekong River, their illuminations painting the water with fleeting beauty.