Laos is a country of festivals. By the notion of people living in this country where the Buddhism is the national religion, if someone has not come to the festival, he will be unlucky and not wealthy in the year. Maybe that is the reason why in Laos this festival is called “Bun” (means blessing). Among all festivals, the Boat Racing Festival which is also called the Okphansa ( vegetarian festival) held in October each year, is one of the festivals with Laos traditional culture.
In the views of Laotians after three month of fasting, people were driven out of anguish to start with the new day life. Vegetarian Festival has 3 main activities: the implement of ceremony (including worship and candlelight procession around the temple), the drop boat lights but the most important and exciting part is racing boat. Boat Racing festival has been deemed fit for fun occasions received the good luck. So on this day the organizations, offices are also off work to cheer the festival.
Before holidays people coming to the temple in the city to celebrate “Tac Bat ceremony” (professed Buddhist ceremony, pardon). In the eve of the boat sailing festival, they gathered in the Mekong River to drop down the river boat lights and wished happiness and good things. Boat racing festival is considered as a landmark launch for the entertainment, marriage, work from home in Laos .So it makes tremendous sense for people born and raised in the country of a million elephants.
In Luang Prabang, Boun Suang Heua, or boat racing festival held on Khao Padapdin attracts many pilgrims traveling in Laos.
In the Vientiane capital, it was held a day after the Vegetarian Festival. Both are social events and important sport with the witness of so many visitors and pilgrims traveling to Laos. A week before the regatta, the stalls were erected along the Fa Ngum Quai (Fa Ngum Road), selling all kinds of merchandise and food or the game, and loud music played all day and late at night. On the day of the race, the officials of the Vientiane coming here to visit all the temples of the deity guardian to make offerings, please allow organized race and demand peace in the event. Large crowds concentrated along the Mekong River shore to watch and cheer for the boats. Besides officials traditional orchestra played during each race, and the faster pace when the boat is near the destination.
Traditional boat whittled from a single raw coal plant . The boat is in every village and are often kept on a shelf in the precincts and just get carried away to join the race once a year. A few days before the race, the boat was clean and was offered because it was considered as a sacred thing.
Boats can carry 50 rowers. The women’s team race in the morning while the men’s team race in the afternoon. The starting point is two kilometers upstream, and each race has two boats. The losing team will be disqualified immediately. After the finals, all the teams will be participating in a special race. The winner will receive a silver trophy and cash.
This year, boat racing festivals takes place in October 28th and 9th to thank heaven and earth, thank the Mother for blessing water to farmers, a favorable harvests and bumper; Thanksgiving for God of snake Naga – totem, marine gods of Laotians giving good weather so that people can live a prosperous and happy life.