Boun That Luang Festival -Vientiane, Laos 🇱🇦 24 November 2007

// Part 4 of 8 //

It is the most important Buddhist celebration in Laos. It’s held in That Luang temple during the full moon of the twelfth month of the Buddhist calendar and gathers thousands of people from all the provinces.

The pilgrims assemble at dawn as early as 5:00 AM- to distribute alms to the hundreds of monks who converge from around the country.

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Long before reaching the temple, we had an idea of the situation inside…the crowd had taken over the street leading to the stupa and we could distinguish :

⁃ the devotees seated on plastic mats, entire families, old and young in their best attires, their offerings proudly in front of them.

⁃ the monks standing pragmatically behind the tables “entrusted “ with their offering bowls which would soon be replenished thanks to the passersby’s generosity. Some of them contained paper money, a symbol of prosperity.

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Female Buddhist monks

⁃ the offering stands where one has the choice to buy flowers (mostly orange), food (rice, dried fish, water bottles) and even birds which will certainly rejoice at being set free.

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With a central structure’s height of 45m, That Luang is the biggest and most famous stupa in Laos. Considered a national symbol, it was built in 1566 by the king Setthathirah and has relics of the Buddha. We got in through one of the 4 cardinal doors and tried to find a way between the faithful seated on the floor. We might’ve been the only tourists, however our presence didn’t affect the religious fervor of the moment. The seated crowd was oblivious to our presence and preferred to listen to the sermon and ignored our intrusion.

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At the end of the sermon, the monks took their places in a stationary row while the faithful started a parallel moving queue.

And this is how the offerings bought outside were moved from one row to the other…

Following this finale, we moved outside the temple, our senses satiated by the kaleidoscope of colours, sounds and smells and eager to start the visit of the capital…

Let the Party Begin

// Part 1 of 8//

Traveling in itself is a rewarding experience, and the icing on the cake is when you witness a particular celebration during your stay. If you do your homework properly, you can time your trip according to annual happenings in your planned destination. We did it when we visited Laos 🇱🇦 for the Boum That Luang Festival, worked it out to be in a Guatemala 🇬🇹 celebrating All Saints Day and next day’s colourful Day of the Dead …and while in Bhutan 🇧🇹, we ended the Druk Path Trek with a big celebration:The Thimphu Tsechu Festival.

However, you might stumble upon such events unknowingly and that’s even better…forget the anticipatory hype and the build-ups, the surprise factor doubles the pleasure and is truly the cherry on top of the icing on the cake..Talking from experiences, twice in Myanmar 🇲🇲 and 5 times in Peru 🇵🇪 !!

 


Shinbyu , Noviciation Ceremony- Pagan , Myanmar – February 2005

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Nat Festival – Mt Popa, Myanmar February 2005

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Boun That Luang Festival- Vientiane, Laos November 2007

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The 20th anniversary of the School of Civil Engineering at Universidad Andina Nestor Cáceres Velásquez – Puno, Peru October 2011

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           All Saints Day – Todos Santos Cuchumatan, Guatemala, November 2015 
 
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The Day of the Dead – Zunil, Guatemala November 2015

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The Thimphu Tsechu Festival – Thimphu, Bhutan October 2016

From Place to Place

From place to place
Beauty standards change
Black, gold or white
A smile is a smile
Tattooed, toothless or carmine
It makes young and old shine
😄😄😄😄😄 

Vietnam 🇻🇳 2001 Applying black lacquer on the teeth of young coming-of-age women was a very popular rite of passage.

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Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 2007 Gold teeth are a traditional status symbol.

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Tea plucker – Sri Lanka 🇱🇰 2004

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Myanmar 🇲🇲 2005

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Laos 🇱🇦 2007

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Madagascar 🇲🇬 2009

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Peru 🇵🇪 2011

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Guatemala 🇬🇹 2013

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Laos 🇱🇦 2007

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Bhutan 🇧🇹 2016 Carmine or brown red teeth colour are a side effect of chewing betel nut, a very commun practice in SE Asia.