Pi Mai Lao - Luang Prabang

PI MAI LAO

Pi Mai Lao, the vibrant and joyous Lao New Year, transforms the country into a land of revelry and cultural immersion every mid-April. More than just a new year, it's a time for cleansing, renewal, and celebrating with loved ones.

Festivities Date and Celebrations:
The official Pi Mai Lao Festival spans three days, typically from April 13 to 15 or April 14 to 16. Every four years, the festival extends to four days. Each day holds a special significance:

Day 1: Sangkhan Luang: Marking the end of the old year, homes and villages are thoroughly cleaned to expel bad and misfortunes.
Day 2: Van Nao: This "day of no day" falls between years, symbolizing a transitional period and a time for reflection.
Day 3 (or 4): Sang Khan Khuen: The start of the new year! Celebrated with vibrant parades, water throwing, and blessings for good luck and prosperity.

Preparation and Traditions:
In the weeks leading up to Pi Mai Lao, homes undergo deep cleansings, with every corner scrubbed and adorned with fresh flowers. Buddha images are bathed in holy water, a gesture of reverence and purification. The air buzzes with excitement as families prepare their finest attire, eager to welcome the new year with smiles and open hearts.

Pi Mai Lao reaches its peak with the joyous tradition of water throwing. Laotians believe that splashing water washes away the negativity of the past year, ushering in a fresh start. Embrace the spirit of the festival as you get doused with water and flour in the streets, creating unforgettable memories of this unique cultural experience.

Temples become bustling hubs of activity during Pi Mai Lao, with devout Laotians offering prayers and blessings. Colorful parades snake through the cities, particularly in Luang Prabang and Vientiane, showcasing traditional dances, elaborate costumes, and vibrant music. The lively atmosphere is contagious, drawing visitors into the heart of Laotian culture.

Water Rituals: Often perfumed with flowers or natural fragrances, water washes over homes, Buddha images, and monks, cleansing away the old and blessing the new. In a playful dance, friends and strangers alike become targets in joyous water battles, soaking up the spirit of renewal.

Making Merit: Sand Stupas, Animal Release, and Beauty Pageants
Laotians believe in making merit during Pi Mai Lao to bring good fortune. Sand stupas are built, animals are set free, and a beauty pageant crowns Miss Pi Mai Lao.

Music, Dance, and Basi Ceremony: Embracing Laotian CultureTraditional Lao music and social dancing fill the air, and the Basi ceremony with its rich cultural significance, bestows blessings for a prosperous New Year.

Pi Mai Lao Activity:
• Elephant procession from Wat Mai to Wat Xieng Thong
• Traditional Market Fair
• Building sand stupas on Xaymoungkhoun Island in the Mekong
• Miss LPB Parade
• Phra Bang Parade
• Song nam pha
• Puyer-Yayer
• Water splashing on streets
• Visit Buddhist pagodas