The 27 main consonants of the Lao alphabet are divided into three tone classes - high, middle, and low which determine the tonal pronunciation of the word in conjunction with the four tone marks and distinctions between short and long vowels, but aside from tone, there are 21 distinct consonant sounds that occur in the Lao language. Each letter has an acrophonical name that either begins with or features the word prominently and is used to teach the letter and serves to distinguish them from other, homophonous consonants. The letter ? is a special null consonant used as an anchor for vowels, which cannot stand alone, as well as serves as a vowel in its own right.
There are only a handful of basic symbols, but they can be combined with other vowel forms and semi-vowels like to create the full repertoire of diphthongs and triphthongs used in the language. Vowels cannot stand alone or begin a syllable, so the null consonant, which can function as a vowel in its own right, is used as a base. The names of the vowels are just as easy as saying sala before the vowel sign.
TakBaat is an ancient Buddhist tradition, wherein people prepare sticky rice and other small snacks to give to the monks and novice monks, in order to gain merit for themselves and their families. The ceremony is very meaningful to the people involved. Women and men giving alms should be dressed properly according to tradition, in long skirts, or pants for men and shirts with covered shoulders plus a silk scarf laid diagonally across the shoulders. Women must take care not to touch the monks while giving, as all monks and novices have taken a vow not to touch women. This centuries-old tradition is followed by young and old, men and women alike.
The ritual known to the Lao as "phithi Soukhouane" or "phithi baci " is a ritual call back, welcome, and unite the "khouane" with the physical body. It is the ubiquitous of all Lao functions and celebrations, and integral part in Lao family life. A ceremony can be held for a farewell, welcome, birth of a baby, birthdays, house warming, job promotions, harvest, new car, marriage and a new year celebration. The Soukhouane ritual is not a seasonal and does not follow any official calendar of ceremonies and rites in Laos. Although this ritual is not unique to the Lao, it has been said that is a Lao ceremony "par excellence". It contains an amalgam of the many religious and culture traditions that have influenced Lao culture and it continues to adapt itself to political and culture values. The ceremony celebrates, in essence, important family occasions as well as communal events of significance and in an integral part of the life of the Lao. It is a key element of Lao culture, being a microcosm of Lao values.
There are three ritual elements crucial to the staging of the Soukhouane: (1) The Fai Phouk Khene literally is the cotton thread for tying on someone's wrist to symbolize the unity of the Khouane and the body. The threads should usually already be blessed by either monk in a religious ceremony or by a Morphone at the Soukhouane ceremony. (2) A word or two to call back the Khouane, and blessing to bestow on the Khouane and the person, said in the invocation performed by the Morphone . (3) A gift to entice the Khouane and keep the Khouane in the body, arranged around and as the PhaKhouane.
Lamvong is a typical Lao folk dance, meaning circle dance or to dance in circle. It is a famous dance and greatly enjoyed during parties, weddings, festivals and other local celebrations. Lamvong is a very easy dance that does not require any special skills and it is a great fun. If you spend more time on the sidelines than on the dance floor at lao parties and celebrations then you probably have missed out all the fun. To dance the Lamvong, you basically move continuously around a large circle, moving your arms, legs and bending your fingers somewhat in rhythm to the music being played, but you should never be touching your dance partner. Lamvong is typically performed to lao country music. Guests are requested to participate in the Lamvong dance so as to make them enjoy and feel at home at the party. If you are having a lao engagement or wedding ceremony, the bride and groom will be required to dance the Lamvong together then they will dance with guests. If a Lamvong is not performed then it is definitely NOT a traditional Lao engagement or wedding ceremony.
Boon Makkha Bu-saa festival is the day that honors the event when 1,250 of Lord Buddha's Sangha disciples assembled without previous agreement. On this day, about nine months after his enlightenment, Buddha gave an important sermon. These followers were then ordinated and enlightened by Buddha. The festival is celebrated with candle light processions. In the evening, devotees gather in temple complexes to form a procession. Buddhists carry flowers, lighted candles and joss sticks during this procession of Makkha Bu-saa Festival. These people walk around a Chedi at the temple three times under the full moon.
This is to celebrate Lao New Year. The first month of the Lao New year is actually December but the festivities are delayed until April when days are longer than nights. By April it is also hotting up, so having hoses leveled at you and buckets of water dumped on you is more pleasurable. The festival also serves to invite the rains. Pimai is one of the most important annual festivals, particular in Luang Prabang. Water is perfumed with flowers or natural perfumes for washing homes, Buddha images, monks, and soaking friends and passers-by. During the New Year water-throwing frenzy everyone throws and sprays water at each other. Staying dry is not an option. Water symbolizes the washing away of the previous year's bad luck and sins.The theory of watering came from the legend of King Kabinlaphom, whose seven daughters kept his severed head in a cave. The daughter would visit their father's head every year and perform a ritual to bring happiness. Sand is brought to the temple grounds and is made into pagodas or mounds, then decorated before being given to the monks as way of making merit. The Sand pagoda symbolizes the mountain where the King Kabinlaphom's head was kept by his seven daughters. Other activity to make merit at this time is to set animals free. The Lao people believe that even animals need to be free. The most commonly freed animals are tortoises, fishes, crabs, birds, eels and other small animals. Many families will hold a Baci at their houses to welcome Lao New Year as well as to wish their elders good health and long life. Some might respectfully ask for forgiveness from their elders for things that they did in the past year that might have hurt their feelings unintentionally, and at the same time they give the elders new year gifts.
Boon Bang Fai takes place after Pimai. During the festival, homemade rockets of all shapes and sizes are launched throughout the country. Rockets which fail to launch can bring mockery to the owner,while the one which rises the highest will be seen as the victor. The owner of this rocket will be carried by the crowd and very often thrown into the river. The rocket launching is an attempt to fertilize the clouds in order to bring rain to irrigate the newly-planted wet season rice crop.
Phravet is the prior name for Lord of Buddha before he was born as Thao Siddhartha. He was born as the prince in Seta-Outtalanakorn Palace and named Vetsantala . He was the son of "Phra Nha Sisonsay and Phranang Phoudsadee" to the Seta Outtalanakorn capital. Since his birth he decided to donate everything including the silver, gold, elephants, his children. When he was grown up, he married with Nang Mathi and got two children named Thao Saly and Nang Kanha. After he was on the throne to replace his father. He had one white elephant. There were eight brahman from Kalingka city to request his white elephant and this made his people felt very angry and driven him out of the palace. He guided his wife and children to live in the forest for 7 month. There was another brahman to request for his children. He finally was invited back to his home town. Lao people called him Phra Vetsandone. The festival for his life is called "Boon Phravet". When speaking about "Boon Mahaxat" it is meant to tell about the ten lives of Lord Buddha.
It is one of the most important days for Buddhists because on this day the Lord Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and died. All three of these significant events fell on the same day. Boon Visakhabusa is usually celebrated with a public sermon during the day and beautiful candle lit procession to pay respect to Lord Buddha during the night.
The beginning of the three-month long Buddhist Lent. At this time, all monks and novices must remain in their temples. They should not travel or spend the night in any other place except in cases of extreme emergency and, even then, their time away must not exceed seven consecutive nights. This is a time for serious contemplation and meditation for both monks and laymen alike. Traditionally, it is also important for laymen to ordain their sons into the monkhood on this day to get maximum benefit from Buddhist teachings.
This is a somber in which the living pay respect to the dead. Many cremations take place -- bones being exhumed for purpose -- during the time, and gifts are presented to the Sangha so the monks will chant on behalf of the deceased. In Luang Prabang, Boon Haw Khao Padap Din is also known as Boon Boat Racing Festival.
The offering (good deeds) is to be dedicated towards the ancestors' spirit on their last day journey back to the Dukha-Bhuni so they can tale the offerings with them on their return to where they belong serving their life kamma.
Marking the end of Buddhist Lent. Monks are permitted to travel. In the evening, lighting of candles in and around the temples pays respects to Buddha. It is also time for people making new vows, praying for forgiveness for sins committed in the past year and to get rid of bad luck or disease. Small ornamental floats decorated with flowers, candles lit and money are floated along a river bank, in a celebration similar to the Thai Loy Kra Thong. This signifies that it'll take away any troubles of the owners.
The Tod kanthin Ceremony is an annual religious event where Buddhists present monks with new yellow robes and make merit. Every year, each temple may allow only one "Kanthin " ceremony to be held and the period in which this function can be held is restricted to one month of the year --- from start of the end of Lent to the 15th night of the 12th lunar month. Buddhist people regard the "Tod Kanthin " ceremony as the most significant form of merit-making next to the ordination of their close kin. The word "Tod " means "making an offering to the monk" and the word "Kanthin " literary means the "embroidery frame" used in sewing the yellow robes which, in the old day, were collected from rags on dead bodies in the jungle since clothes were not available in plenty as nowadays and there was no machine to help in the sewing or embroidering work. Wooden frames were therefore used to help stretch the materials. Today, however, the ritual ceremony has evolved dramatically in a grand celebration where hundreds & thousands of people join in the merit making. It is an important occasion for the temple to raise funds.
The 45 meters high That Luang Stupa or Pha That Luang was originally built during the ancient Khmer civilization, when Vientiane was inhabited by people known as the "Cham". The site was built as a place for people to worship and pray to idol. The structure was renovated during the reign of King Saysetthathirath in the 16th century when the original site was covered with a larger stupa. From then on the monument took the name That Luang, or Grand Stupa. The festival pays tribute to the beautiful, towering Golden Stupa, the most important religious symbol in Laos, which, according to belief, enshrines a relic of Buddha. The Laotians begin their celebration with three days of processions and religious ceremonies, followed by seven days of revelry (all day and all night), including a carnival with bands, rides, the Miss Laos beauty contest, and oh-so-yummy street food . People pay tribute by walking around the temple three times, primarily during the initial religious processions, but also during the festival.