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Floating away bad luck

Floating away bad luck

Visith Teppalath/ANN |

Sunday marked the End of Buddhist Lent for 2016 and people nationwide celebrated by taking part in many fine traditional activities including fire boat floating.

Fire boat floating or Lainbsp;Heua Fainbsp;is a colourful and meaningful activity held on the rivers around the nation after the candlelight procession in the evening of the day ofnbsp;Boun Ork Phansanbsp;or the End of Buddhist Lent.

The day marks the time when monks can once again emerge from their temples after three months of retreat during the rainy season.

Some people also believe and do this as a means of worshiping the Buddha Naga and gods; floating bad luck; and also give thanks to and ask for a luck from the river spirit guardian and angel.

Sunday marked the End of Buddhist Lent for 2016 and people nationwide celebrated by taking part in many fine traditional activities including fire boat floating.

Fire boat floating is a fine traditional activity among others held at the End of Buddhist Lent festival which has been preserved and continued from generation to generation since the ancient time.

Lao people and also foreigners living in Laos enjoy practising this fine tradition and they have been eagerly looking forward to the day of the floating and have prepared their mini fire boats or bought them from vendors in the days leading up to the festival. Some people wisely make fire boats to sell at this time and can earn some extra money.

Normally people bring their fire boats to the river bank light the candles or incense sticks on the boat then sit or stand on the river bank in the darkness holding the fire boat to their foreheads praying and then releasing the fireboat onto the water.

Actually they just give offerings and ask for anything they want but normally they like to wish for good luck good health wealth success in their work as well as love.

There are many kinds and sizes of boat with different colours and they are typically decorated with offerings.

The fire boats are made from bamboo plastic foam banana trunks and leaves and paper because they are easy to light and be disposed of.nbsp;Finally people will float their boats along the river by lighting them and sometimes the boats are automatically disposed of by burning up.

Some areas particularly in big towns hold this activity as a competition and a reward is offered for the most beautiful boat. There is also a land fire boat setting in each temple for people who cannot go to the river so they can light the candles on it.

There is a belief that if someone can catch or find their fire boat along the river on the morning of the next day that person will be considered as a lucky person and the boat will bring him all good things because there are offerings including money inside the boat.

The land fire boat is for worshiping the Buddha and other gods and people believe that whoever lights the candles or places the flowers and offerings on it and makes a prayer or wish will receive good luck afterwards.

Every year Vientiane hosts its fire boat floating on the Mekong riverbank which attracts large numbers ofnbsp;devotees.

Before the festival days the related sectors assign each district to build their representative boats and they normally take more than one week to complete.

All boats are large and colourfully decorated with Lao traditional patterns art carvings candle lights and offerings while displaying important cultural monument and stupas.

There are many large fire boats representing districts organisations and companies showcased along the Mekong river bank in order to promote Lao culture its colourful fine traditions as well as tourism.

Meanwhile the residents enjoy their personal mini boat floating which they do with friends and family or as couples.

People in the provinces hold similar activities but some activities might be slightly different depending on their local traditions or ritual method.

Normally on the festival day in the evening besides fireboat floating people also undertake other interesting activities suchnbsp;Loy Ka Thongnbsp;similar to fire boats but a different shape aspect because it is round along the river.nbsp;Ka Thongnbsp;is a small opening parcel of offerings and made of banana leaves paper and plastic.

It is believed that one can float illness and bad luck with the offerings along the river. Then people wish for good luck healthy happiness success and other things. This is very famous among couples of lovers especially young people because they like to wish for love with each other and ask the river spirit or guard for witnessing the love.

Khamla Soudilath an elder of Sihom village Chanthabouly district of Vientiane on the day he gathered with his group decorated the fire boat which represented his district for display on the Mekong river this year.

Khamla said that fire boat floating is a fine tradition which has been practised for a long time and it is also a meaningful activity marking the end of the Lent and promoting Lao culture during the festival.

He also said that he and other villagers were very happy that this year their village was assigned by the related sector to build the big fire boat representing the district to display on the Mekong River and he was confident that people would enjoy witnessing the fire boats especially the one for Chanthabouly made by his village.

ldquo;We villagers of Sihome are very happy to be assigned to build the fire boat. We would like to thank the sector for trusting and assigning us to make the boat.rdquo;

ldquo;Of course we would try our best to finish on time and make it as colourful and beautiful as possible. So our boat will be most attractive among others. Our boat is larger than last year about 19 metres long.nbsp; I am sure people will enjoy witnessing the fire boats this yearrdquo; he added.

The End of Buddhist Lent Festival ornbsp;Boun Ork Phansanbsp;is generally held to mark the ending of the monksrsquo; three-month rain retreat or the depart of the rainy season. This year lent started at the beginning of July and ended yesterday October 16.

Ork Phansanbsp;means to allow the monks travel outside of the temples from place to place after staying in the same place without wandering for a three-month period.

It is the time that monks can do wandering for disseminating Dhamma to people in local or rural areas and giving ordination to interested persons.

As happens during other festivals on the festival day in the morning people go to temples in their community for giving alms and food and presenting offerings and yellow robes to monks and novices.

After enjoying making merit in the temples in the morning then people again enjoy more colourful activities in the evening such as the candlelight processionsnbsp;Lai Heua Fai andnbsp;Loy Ka Thong.

And the next day is marked by popular and exciting boat races which foreign visitor should not miss to celebrate by the Mekong River at Vat Chan riverfront.

In Vientiane during the celebration days of the festival stalls are setting up along the Mekong bank at allocated areas to promote all kind of local products and people can enjoy a spot of shopping.

Vientiane TimesANN