Laos is a beautiful country where Buddhism is considered as the National religion. Every year, almost every month there are also festivals; of which, That Luang Festival is the largest religious festival, imbued Lao cultural and attract the attention of a large number of tribal people acrossing the country and the Laotians in the northeastern province of Thailand, also international visitors.
Pha That Luang – the largest and most beautiful temple in Laos
Situated on a high, wide and flat ground in the east of Vientiane, That Luang temple is the largest and most beautiful tower in Laos; is a cultural icon representing the creativity of Laotians built in the sixteenth century, when the Lan Xang Kingdom ( Million Elephants ) moved from Luong Prabang to Vientiane.
According to the legend, That Luang is one of the Buddhist temples in the world kept the relics of Gautama Buddha when he wrote Nirvana. According to the temple’s old bibliographic records, in this area, in 236 Buddhist calendar, the year 307 B.C, people built a temple.
When Buddhism became the state religion and Vientiane was a new capital , along with the construction of palaces, castles, palaces, temples, the King Xetthathilat decided to repair this temple by building up on their old temple with a new, large and beautiful tower and the architecture was preserved until today.
The tower has a square pedestal, North and South each 68m wide, east and west each 69m wide, around 332 decorated by a stylized bodhi leaf. In addition to the 45m high tower, also has 30 small tower symbolizes the Buddha Shakyamuni with 30 years of arduous practice to become Buddha. On this small tower covering the Bali famous words inscribed the word of the Buddha.
That Luang Festival
That Luang festival takes place on the full moon day in December Buddhist calendar, lasts one week and ends on the full moon day of the month correctly. That Luang Festival this year is the same as every year, in addition to the religious ceremonial, there is also trade fair exhibiting and trading foreign goods held from 28th October.
There are thousands of goods exhibition of which products are from the agricultural, industrial, handicraft of the branches and localities in the country’s neighbors.
This year’s Fair is held in two places are: That Luang Square and International Trade Fair Commercial Centre “Laos ITECC” in Vientiane Capital; beside exhibiting booths related to “Made in Laos”products , visitors are also unopposed when looking for the products manufactured by the enterprises of Vietnam, China and Thailand.
Major holidays will start from the afternoon of 31th October and extends continuously until the end of the day 2nd November (15th December on Buddhist calendar) to bless peace to all people, the harmony between heaven and earth, mountains, rivers and gods.
One of the main features of this festival is the procession of Pha Sat Phong (the tower procession ) from Me Xi Muong temple to That Luang. Pha Sat Phong is an architectural temple models made of porous material, mounted with brilliant yellow beeswax flowers. On the top are 9 white lotus flowers, the around is the turbine tower with flowers or money wired to sense practices like burning houses, money for the dead of Vietnam.
As to the Pha That Luang, the procession will carry Pha Sat Phong to travel about three laps before stopping at the post hall to mass and receive gifts by the monks with solemn serious, respectful form, . According to Laos tradition, each family, or a group of people can use a Pha Sat Phong together.
On December 15th in the morning Buddhist calendar, Tac Bat ceremony is held (Massing for the monks), thousands of monks from across the country will flock to That Luang, sitting along the road to welcome Buddhists from all over the offertory givinging money, candy, sticky ricce.
Joining Tac Bat ceremony, it inclides leaders of Party, State, Government, National Assembly and the Lao Front for National Construction; leaders of ministries, agencies and municipal governments of Vientiane and guests of the That Luang.
The ceremony is the fun and entertainment of arts, culture, sports, goods trading and exhibitions. In the cultural performances at festivals, Laotians focuse on the folk songs, popular dance to characterize customs of Laos as ‘Lam Luong’ (poems singing), and ‘Lam Toi’ to other localized types of ‘Lam’ (dance) Sa La Van dancing, Si Phan Don dancing (Southern Laos), Tang Vai dancing.
Especially people coming to Bun festival, That Luang really note the shows “Ti Khi” (Hockey), an official folk game in the festival in front of the presence of the state . ‘ Ti Khi’ is divided into two camps. The red shirts group symbolizing officials and white shirts or shirtless symbolizing farmers. Each match is divided into 3 innings, 20-30 minutes for each.
According to folk beliefs, if in a year, faction of farmers wins officials faction, the country will hardly be quiet, people will get failure in business, that’s why every year white shirts or shirtlessgroup all wins. Also, “Ti Khi” is also meaningful in praying for peace, good weather, good crops, around harmony, peaceful country, the people’s prosperous, hatred and enmity, and build solidarity reunion Building prosperous country village happily.
The last night of the festival will take place in the relay, when thousands of Buddhists holding litting candles, walking around the lawn inside the campus of That Luang, creating a beautiful and fanciful scene , increasing the sacred atmosphere for areas which has already been containing many mysteries of Million Elephants country.
Every year, the festival will end with a colorful fireworks contest as the tourists do not forget to make an appointment to attend this festival in the following year.