Boun Awk Phansa is the last day of Buddhist lent. It happens each year in October, three lunar months after Khao Phansa on the 15th day of the 11th month of the lunar calendar.
This year Boun Awk Phansa falls tomorrow, 12th October, and one of the best places to see this festival in Laos is Luang Namtha. The whole town goes to the river to be part of the celebrations at the peak of the event, which starts on the 12th with donations and offerings are made at the local temples in the morning. Local people get up at about 4.30am to give alms to the monks at the temples, usually sticky rice and offerings of pork or vegetables. The monks play their drums, in a ceremony inviting local people to come and bring them food.
Then in the evening, candles are lit around the temples and people walk around the temples and people send small boats of banana leaves decorated with candles and flowers down the rivers.
These are said to pay respect to the Buddha and to thank the mother of rivers for providing water for life. This is believed to bring good luck for the year ahead.
The day of the boat racing festival (the 13th October this year) in Luang Namtha is extremely festive and very enjoyable. People gather to eat food lao style and drink Beerlao. We watch the boats in the river from the best vantage points in the town.
Tomorrow the festivities begin early in the morning, and so we will put up photos and a commentary about this exciting event.
More updates to follow very soon!