Best time to go to Laos

Boun Awk Phansa or the End of Buddhist Lent 2018

Water dragons, flower boats, and floating candles—all part of this magical festival!

Boun Awk Phansa or the End of Buddhist Lent in Laos - Best Time
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© mark neary

When the three months of Buddhist Lent come to an end in October, it is the perfect time to visit temples and celebrate the end of the rainy season. In Laos, this is called Boun Awk Phansa and various religious and local traditions can be observed during this time.

Every Buddhist temple welcomes visitors with donations and offerings. After that, candlelight processions are held around the temples and people follow to the rivers to send small lighted "boats" made of banana stems and leaves. This ritual is supposed to pay respect to the Buddha for providing water to humans. Some Lao people believe that this ritual, called Lai Heua Fai, is held for Nagas that inhabit the rivers and these boats will float the bad luck away. Villagers who live far away from rivers create boats from flowers and bananas or simply light candles in front of their houses which turns the normally dark streets into magical sights.

People who live on the banks of the Mekong River also create tributes to the Naga, or mythical water dragons, and in the evening shoot magic pink-red fireballs into the sky to signify the end of Boun Awk Phansa.

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