Thong’s brother and his wife had their second baby girl 2 weeks ago and they named her Noi. We were invited to attend her blessing ceremony (sukwan string or bai si or baci ceremony) where the baby and her family are blessed and wished good luck for their futures. The purpose of the tying of the strings is to call the ‘kwan’ or soul, back to the body and re-unite the 32 different parts of the soul (each representing body organs) back into the human body. This ceremony is quite common in Laos, it seems that any occasion is reason for the string tying ceremony such as birth, death, marriage, a person arriving or leaving a village, cleansing of the soul if a mistake has been made, etc.
We travelled to the ceremony by car (our first car trip in Asia!) and arrived as the final preparations for the celebration were being made. The silver table was already decorated with the standard flowers and strings and a chicken had been placed on the tray for offering to the spirits.
The extended family and friends of the baby’s family then all gather one by one and tie a string on both the left and right wrists of the baby, her mother and father, and her siblings if any. At this party baby Noi has one older sister so she was also part of the ceremony. Then they all sit in a circle around the silver tray and touch it while a village elder or local monk chants blessings.
It’s all very interesting to see and large quanities of food and drink are consumed, as per every Lao party! To see more photos of the ceremony click here.