Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rice growing festival in Laos

My neighbor Khuan and her friend at the temple.

On Saturday morning my village got busy. Evert Lao family dressed up and went to the Wat. The reason: Rice growing festival. At least that's what told me one person. Another one said it is to honour the ancestors. They at least agreed on the name Hok Kao Padapdin. Lao Voices explains it this way:

Many Lao people believe that each year the guardians of hell let the ancestral spirits return to their hometowns during the Horkhaopadapdin festival to collect food offerings from their relatives... This tradition follows a legend from the era of Buddha. One day, Phra Chao (Lord) Phimphisane had his relatives become Phed (spirits who have to take care of temples because of their bad deeds). Later he dreamt of his relatives crying in pain and hunger. The morning after, he asked Buddha what the dream meant, and was told that the spirits wanted him to donate something and make merit for them to enable them to be reborn.

Offerings for the spirits
I was told it is to honour the rice growing, kind of a Thanksgiving Day. Anyway, too feed the spirits people place little offerings along the streets. They contain food (rice and fruits), sometimes money and cigarettes. All is placed in a banana leaf, and that looks quite nice. Unfortunately people are too lazy now to even fold a banana leaf, and use styrofoam boxes instead. Shows pretty good that culture if not related to education goes the wrong way. People should be aware that using natural ressources is part of this culture, and that the festival is not just to make sure you will be okay once you are dead.
New way
Old way

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