This weekend we'll be celebrating Lao New Year, also known as Songkran or Pii May, this is a huge Buddhist event in the Lao calendar. Lao culture plays a huge part in Finchittida Finch, so here's a run down of the celebrations!
It might seem odd to celebrate the New Year in April, but in Laos this is the end of the dry season and the start of the monsoon season - so it is seen as a time of rebirth and purification. Celebrations stretch across three days (13th-15th April) and there are a few different elements involved along the way.
The first day is about saying goodbye to the old year, people prepare perfumed water with flowers for cleaning Buddha statues and homes the next day.
On the second day Buddha statues are taken down from their places in homes and villages so they can be cleaned. The water that runs off the Buddha statues is collected and used to bless on monks, family and friends - it is believed to purify the receivers.
Although this usually turns into a massive water fight, with people splashing water at eachother shouting ‘Sabidee Pee Mai’ (or Happy New Year!).
On the third day, offerings are made at the temple to bring luck for the year ahead. Sand stupas (mounds) are built in the temples to stop evil spirits spreading into the following year; as well as all of this, there's plenty of delicious food, music and dancing.
Here in the UK, we head to our favourite temple, the beautiful Buddhapadipa in Wimbledon to celebrate.
There are Buddha statues in the gardens that can be cleansed with water which is scattered with petals. The poured water collects underneath ready for the next person, like a cycle of renewal.
Inside the beautifully decorated temple, there are monks ready to bless people for the coming year. Food is served close to the temple and everyone feasts together!
This is a really special time for Lao people and it's the perfect way to welcome a brand new year in Buddhism. Sabidee Pee Mai!
[Image Credits: Tumblr, S Dhammika].
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