Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sabaidee Pi Mai Lao

That, being interpreted means, "Happy Lao New Year!"

Lao New Year is in April. It is very, very hot in April, so it works out that one of the traditions is to have basically a country-wide water fight. There are people standing in the streets with buckets of water and water guns and soaking people on their scooters as they drive by. It's pretty crazy. I think there actually is a religious basis for the water--something about showering blessings on people for the new year or something like that. There was some water sprinkling involved in the "baci" (pronounced bossy) or Buddhist ceremony of some kind that had to do with good fortune in the new year. I never got a chance to sit down with someone who really understood, but that's what I gathered. Also, everyone wears clothes that I would call "Hawaiian" but I guess it's just tropical. So, Scott told me he needed a red flower shirt to wear to school for Pi Mai and we bought an outfit for him and Bobby on the side of the road on the way home--not hard to find at that time of year.

Here are the pictures:
Matt had a baci and party at his work. They provided shirts for them to wear (and keep!). Matt's not in the picture, because he took it...
Scott had a baci at his school, too. Everyone holds on to a string that's tied to the flowers in the middle of the circle. Then someone says a long prayer(?) and sprinkles water, flower petals, and rice on the crowd.
Scott and Bobby sat together and I just took pictures.
After the baci is over, you get some treats--a banana, a hard-boiled egg, and some cookies, AND they tie a string around your wrist. (Matt got a lot of them at his work, so I think anyone can tie bracelets on you and they're just wishing you good luck in the new year. You're supposed to wear them until they fall off.)
Bobby was excited about the treats.

Then the water fight begins... They also had cups and kiddie pools set up behind the school for the kids to play. Basically everyone in the whole country is soaking wet for three days.

So there you have it! Another Lao cultural event to experience while we live abroad. Check! We can go out of town for this holiday next year ;)

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