The Traditional New Year Holiday in Southeast Asian Nations (part 1)

1. New Year holiday in Laos

The New Year festival in Laos is called Bunpimay (also known as  “tying threads around people’s wrists” Tet, or “Hot Nam” festival when people splash water to each other to pray for health, luck and a happy life). During the Tet, Laotians usually attach special importance to eat Larb (type of Lao minced meat salad that is regarded as the national dish of this country), especially the entrepreneurs. According to Laotian, larb means fortune. Larb is seen as the soul of the people of Laos in the new year. People can give larb to each other, and the more larbs that a family receive, the more hope and fortune this family can have in the new year. Larb here is usually made from fresh chicken or beef then mixed with the spices. Especially, this dish would reduce its unique flavor without thính (powdered grilled rice). In every family, especially those who do business, Larb is cooked carefully and meticulously by the chefs because, in the New Year, if this dish is delicious, the host is regarded as suffering from many bad omens in the coming year.

Laos New Year holiday

Larb- a traditional and important dish at Laos New Year Festival of Laotians


During the Bunpimay New Year Holiday, Laotians usually give clothes and scarves to the elderly. During the day, people go to temples to pray. In the evening, everyone gathers in the temple to have fun, perform the traditional music  (morlam) and Lamvong dance. If the village worship the Buddha statue in a cave, there is a Buddha bathing ceremony called Song Namphaphou. The monks and villagers have lunch at that mountain after the ceremony. In particular, Laotians use flowers in to wish for good luck Laos New Year’s Day. There are two kinds of flowers including cassia flower (yellow scorpion flower, queen flower) which is spun on the cars or decorated at home, and Champa flower which is plaited in racemes or spun in the hair to wish for blessings. In the afternoons, the head monk guides the monks, nuns and villagers to pick fresh flowers, bring to the pagoda and give to the Buddha. While picking flowers, people beat the drums and traditional instruments.

Laos New Year holiday

Classical Lamvong dance style of Laos


2. Cambodia New Year Holiday

During New Year Holiday, the temples in Cambodia often fly the flags with five primary colors or  Buddhist flags. Before the New Year, every family sets up the altars to worship their ancestors, in the altar, they generally  burn 5 incense sticks and light up 5 candles. The families also heap up 5 san piles, or fruits, cakes, even sheaves of rice…

On the Eve, people see off the Theravada God of the old year and welcome a new Theravada god to rule the year and bless the Buddhist. In the New Year, there are usually Lion dance performances (a traditional ritual performed to bring good luck, especially at New Year, in which two men danced costumed in a large artificial lion head and body) which are very interesting in Cambodia. In the last festival day, people stretch a rope across the river, after that, the head of the local cuts the cord to “order” the  water back to the sea so that the peasants can do the farm work effectively.


The Cambodians wear traditional costumes in the New Year


In New Year’s Day, people in the family seat in front of the altar, clasp their hands in prayer to ask the God and Buddha to give them happiness and fortune. Then they wear new clothes neatly and go to the temples and listen to the monks to preach and irrigate fragrant water on Buddha statues and monks. At home, Cambodia’s offer delicious cakes to their grandparents parents to wish them longevity, and to show gratitude to them. People bring flowers, offerings to the temples early in the morning to listen to the lectures, perform the Buddha bathing ritual, pitch flowers on sandy stupas and brush out the streets to splash water on each other to wish for luck.

The Traditional New Year Holiday  in Southeast Asian Nations (part 1)

Tags : Vietnam Cambodia Tours | Cambodia DestinationsVietnam Holidays

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