"Pi Mai" in 3 S.E. Asian countries through Norwegian eyes: Part 2, Laos | Bangkok Post: learning

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"Pi Mai" in 3 S.E. Asian countries through Norwegian eyes: Part 2, Laos

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We continue of New Year’s tour with students from Norway in Laos: “The people in Laos were incredibly welcoming. They let us celebrate with them and they made us feel like we were one of them.”

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Washing of the statues is an important part of the New Year celebrations in Laos. PHOTO: JHON LEGASPI

The New Year in Laos

Thursday, April 12th till Sunday the 15th

In Laos we spent a lot of time in the streets, walking around, meeting new people and watching them celebrate the New Year. We went to the official opening of the Lao New Year-celebration at the beach by the Mekong River.  We also had the pleasure of joining in on a Baci ceremony, visiting temples and we watched a parade. All the decorations, colours, traditions and, of course, the water made a big impression on us.

Young dancers performing traditional dances before the Baci ceremony. PHOTOS: KRISTIN BERGER

The people in Laos were incredibly welcoming. They let us celebrate with them and they made us feel like we were one of them.

Celebrating Pi Mai in Vientiane

Miss Vientiane and her runners-up attending the official opening. PHOTO: KRISTIN BERGER

On 13th of April 2015 we witnessed the launch of Pi Mai (New Year) Lao festivities
held in Vientiane at Mekong Beach (actually the river bed which is accessible during the dry season).

There, we saw some of the traditional songs and dance in Lao. We also met Miss Vientiane 2015 together with her runners-up.

Dancers performing traditional Lao dance. PHOTO: NEVENA BOGIĆEVIĆ

During the first day of Pi Mai the official opening of the festival took place. Dignitaries like the Vice President of Laos were there to take part in the ceremony. Famous Lao singers were on the stage together with dancers from a school in Vientiane.

Baci ceremony at Mixay house

As a part of the Baci ceremony people blessed each other by tying a symbolic white thread around each others wrists for good luck and good health. PHOTO: ROSALYN MAI DO

Michel Somsanouk invited three groups to Baci on the 14th. We were there together with the national Lao Rugby team and members of the  Journalist Association. Baci is a ritual used to celebrate important events and occasions, like births, marriages and the beginning of a new year. Baci involves tying strings around a person’s wrist to preserve good luck.

Young musicians entertaining with traditional Lao music. PHOTO: ROSE LARSSON

Students took part in this private New Years' ceremony in Laos, which featured a beautiful animistic ritual. For entertainment, a band of hugely gifted youngsters played Laotian music, while some young girls performed a traditional dance for the visitors.

Celebrations on the 14th in the streets in Vientiane

People riding in a truck with buckets and barrels of water, throwing the water on people walking by. PHOTO: ROSE LARSSON

Buddhist monks preparing for the parade outside of one of the temples. PHOTO: KRISTIN BERGER

When it is Lao New Year (Pi Mai), you will find everyone out on the streets or in the temples. During the celebrations people throw water at each other, go to temples and wash Buddha statues and other statues and they also have a parade throughout the city. It’s a three day celebration with a lot of fun and tradition.

Parade floats getting ready for the parade. PHOTO: ROSE LARSSON

You can read the first story in this series (Cambodia) here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/537535/pi-mai-in-cambodia-laos-and-thailand-through-norwegian-eyes

Vocabulary:

accessible : that can be reached, entered, used, seen, etc - ที่สามารถเข้าได้

animistic (adj): connected with the belief that plants, objects and natural things such as the weather have a living soul - ความเชื่อว่ามีวิญญาณในธรรมชาติและจักรวาล

Baci ceremony (noun): a ceremony in Laos which involves the tying of white cotton strings around person’s wrists, prayers and well wishes -

barrel : a large round container, usually made of wood or metal, with flat ends and, usually, curved sides - ถังใส่ของเหลว

bucket : a container with an open top and a handle, often used for carrying liquids - ถัง

celebration : a party or special event at which you celebrate something such as a birthday, a festival or a religious holiday - การฉลอง

decoration : a thing that makes something look more attractive on special occasions - เครื่องประดับ

dignitary : a person who has an important official position - บุคคลที่มีตำแหน่งสูง, ผู้มีฐานะสูงส่ง

festival (noun): an event that is held to celebrate a particular thing or activity - เทศกาล

festivities (noun): the activities that are organized to celebrate a special event - งานเทศกาล

float : a large vehicle on which people dressed in special costumes are carried in a festival - ขบวนรถแห่ในงานรื่นเริง

gifted : with an impressive natural ability - ซึ่งมีพรสวรรค์, ซึ่งมีความสามารถพิเศษ

impression : an opinion or feeling that you have about someone or something - ความรู้สึก,ความประทับใจ

incredibly : in a way that is difficult to believe - อย่างไม่น่าเชื่อ

journalist : a person who writes news stories or articles for a newspaper or magazine or broadcasts them on radio or television - ผู้สื่อข่าว

launch : starting something - การเริ่มต้น

occasion : a special event, ceremony or celebration - โอกาส, งาน

preserve : to keep something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed - ทำให้คงอยู่, สงวน

private : owned by a particular person or group - ของส่วนบุคคล, ของเอกชน

ritual : a set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony - พิธีกรรม

river bed : the bottom of the river, underwater - ท้องคลอง, พื้นใต้น้ำของลำคลอง

runners-up (noun): the competitors who place second (or below) in a competition - รองอันดับหนึ่ง

stage (noun): a raised area, usually in a theatre, etc. where actors, dancers, speakers etc. perform - เวที

statue : a human or animal image that is made of stone, wood, metal, etc. - รูปปั้น

symbolic : representing something important, but in this case, not the real thing - เป็นสัญญาณ เป็นสัญลักษณ์

thread (noun): a long string or fiber used to make fabric and clothes - ด้าย, เส้นด้าย, เส้นไหม, เส้นใย

tradition : a very old custom, belief, or story - ประเพณี, ขนบธรรมเนียม

traditional (adj): of a custom, a way of life or a way of doing things that has not changed for a long time - เป็นประเพณี, ตามธรรมเนียม, ตามที่ปฏิบัติกันมา

witness (verb): to see something happen - มองเห็น, เป็นพยาน

wrist : the part of your body between your hand and your arm - ข้อมือ

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