For three days during the twelfth lunar month, Laotians descend on Vientiane (more specifically, That Luang) to celebrate the Festival of the Golden Stupa (Boun That Luang). That Luang is the national symbol and perhaps most important religious monument in the country, and Boun That Luang is considered the most important Theravada Buddhist festival.
Last year, we missed much of the festival, only catching it on the evening of the final day, which is the culmination of three days of religious activities. This year, we visited on the morning of the second day, when large numbers of the devout are busy bringing their offerings to the monks at the temple before enjoying a picnic meal with their families at the complex. Everyone is dressed in their festival best.
Participants bring their family offering bowl loaded with an assortment of consumables for the monks and for the ancestors.
The stupa has undergone a complete restoration over the past couple of years and looks amazing.
People wait in long lines for the opportunity to present their offerings and receive a blessing on this important occasion.
Some leave small offerings around the complex for the spirits.
A mock traditional village has been set up showcasing traditional village life and livelihoods.
Completely replaced by tuk-tuks, pedicabs are a relic of the past in Vientiane. There are a dozen on hand for photo-ops.
Noe always enjoys a good festival. Lots to see.
Last year, we participated in the evening procession around the stupa (and the after-party) but knew this year that the visiting the stupa in the day might be a bit more fun for Noe.
The festivities and ceremony had even spilled out to the front of the Canadian coffee shop, where monks awaited to give passersby blessings in exchange for their offerings.
Our way back to the car took us through this impromptu market strip, stocked with festive favorites like egg-on-a-stick, meat-on-a-stick, and sausage-on-a-stick.