Illuminated Luang Prabang
A Festival of Lights: Boun Ok Pansa 16th-17th October
Photo: Dusadeephan Phajee/Sutiluck Plaengsaeng
Step back in to the beginning of Buddhist Era, during rainy season, monks and novices were struggling to go out for daily alms giving. As a solution, in every 3 months of wet season, Buddhists went to the temple to give the monks offerings. According to the legend said that Lord Buddha went to heaven to give sermons his mother who died after giving him birth for 3 months, the day he came back down on earth considered to be the end of 3 months hibernate. We call the day that the Lord Buddha went to heaven “Boun Khao Pansa” and the end of Buddhist lent as “Boun Ok Pansa” when people celebrating the Buddha come back.
Both Laos and Thais are sharing the same tradition and this year (2016) Boun Khao Pansa started from July 15th and Boun Ok Pansa is October 16th.
People went to the market shopping for food, and some material for home decorations. Each temple decorates the whole area with star lanterns made of bamboo and paper, they also prepare paper boat to float in the river at night, and a lot of candles. The preparation day is the most colourful day, you will see smoke from cooking coming out of every house, villagers preparing food in front of their house turning on music out loud and asking people if they want to join. The most crowded spots are always Vat Xieng Thong follow by Vat Saen located on the main street.
Boun Ok Pansa Day
Every people in the house are wearing the best new clothes to go to the temple for this event which starts with giving alms in the morning. Then go back home prepare themselves for the evening festival; putting tea lights around the house, decorating the house with flowers and banana trees.
In the afternoon there is boat races competition on Mekong River.
At night, the lights are everywhere on the floor, on the ground. After the sermons finish, around 7.00 pm or 8 pm, there will be a procession of all the boats that were made before with candle light to let it go to the river at Wat Xiang Thong. Some people are going to do boat cruise to put their own boat on the river as well. We could say that in Luang Prabang the the two festival Boun Ok Pansa and Loy Krathong are merged together.