2012 Pha That Luang Festival
Pha That Luang Festival, Vientiane Laos
This religious festival occurs in the city of Vientiane in Laos. The event happens every year at around the beginning November at the sighting of the full moon for three consecutive days.
The festival, a tribute to the Buddha occurs at the Golden Stupa. The Golden Stupa is a tall temple towering at over forty meters high. It is an iconic national and religious building and it is believed that the ashes of the Buddha were laid here.
The Pha That Luang Festival is usually a three day long affair. The first day of the festival entails a procession in which monks dressed in orange robes lead people from Laos pay homage to Buddha by encircling the main pillar of the temple three times. On the second day of procession, the worshippers come dressed in their favourite clothes and carrying offerings and again go round Pha That Luang Stupa three times.
The processions usually involve burning of incense and the faithful carrying candles. Thereafter, the locals give alms to the monks who line up the paths leading to the Stupa. The alms are given in the belief that the prayers for a health and prosperity for the coming years shall be answered.
After the procession, the festival continues for the next seven days. The festival often includes traditional foods and drinks served in the streets and carnivals that run day and night. A common hallmark of the festival is a game of tikhy, which very much resembles the sport of hockey, is played between two teams in the municipality. At the turn of the full moon the ceremony is closed by a fireworks display, rounding up a week-long of religious duty and social celebrations.
The festival is very popular and attracts worshippers and tourists from all over to come and witness the spectacle.