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Lao New Year (Pee Mai Lao)
Lao people also enjoy the International New Year, but Lao New Year which is called Water Festival or Koudsongkhane is the biggest traditional festival throughout the country.

At the present period of time, it is organised within the fifth month of the Buddhist Calendar, starting from the 6th day of 5th month and ending date in the 5th day of the 6th month. Traditionally it is an one month festival not more or less in this specified period. The merit day should be organised in full moon.

Usually Lao New Year or Koudsongkhane organised in April 13 to 16 in every year.

Lao New Year History

Historically, it was organised in the first day of January. Due to it was winter time and uncomfortable to the waterers and the watered so the date changed to the hottest time of the year. Previously, there are 10 days in Laos. The Cab is the first day, then the Hab is the second, Hooey, Meuang, Peek, Kat, Cot, Houang, Tao, and Kha is the tenth day, respectively.

The months are Deuane Chieng, Deuane Nhee, Deuane Same and so on. The first month is called Deuane Chieng or Deuane Ay, it is nearly the same time as December. The second month is called Deuane Nhee, it is nearly the same period of January and the Lao twelfth months is the same time as in the international month of November.

There are twelve months called Pi Xuad, the year of mouse, Salou the of ox, Kane the year of the tiger. Tho the year of rabbit, Malong the year of dragon, Maseng the year of snake, Mamia the year of horse, Mamae the year of sheep, Vok the year of the monkey, Laka the year of cock, Cho the year of dog, and Koune the year of boar.

Maha Sila Viravong explained that "When Lao people immigrated from the southern of Chaina and built their houses in Souvannaphoum, the existing land, Lao received culture for Lao New Year from Mon-Phama and Khmers. Days, months and years were originally from India."

Reasons to set up Lao New Year in the 5th month

Maha Sila Viravong explained: During this point of time, the day time is longer than the night from April the 5th month to October the 11th month. Since April, the day time will be longer than the night time till July, the 8th month and the longest day time of this period will be 14 hours and 24 Minutes.

The old India respected the day time longer called Watthanasagn (too many shadow). The sun changed to the north direction. And the rain begins, people can produce more than other season.

In addition, there is an old saying that before Buddhism there was a son of rich peasant called "Thmmaphala" or called "Thammabane". He was a very clever boy and understood the birds language.

At the beginning he taught Dhamma and knowledge to people. At the time all people respected Kabinlaphom, the god of the sky as the wisest. When Kabinlaphom heard that Thammabane is a powerful boy, he wanted to make competition about the knowledge. He came down to the world and set up three questions for Thammabane to answer. The bid was, if Thammabane could reply, Kabinlaphom head would be cut. It Thammabane could not reply his head would be cut by Kabinlaphom.

The three questions are:

  • The first question: where is the tint (bright and lustrous) of the body in the morning?
  • The second question: where is the tint (bright and lustrous) of the body in the day time?
  • The third question: where is the tint (bright and lustrous) of the body in the evening?

Thammabane could not reply immediately, but he proposed to the postpone the date for answer within 9 days. He thought and thought but nothing could come out. Then 3 days passed, he went out for a long distance. He was very tired and slept under the big palm tree. On its branches, the big eagles talked in the bird language and the female asked the male "what kind of food will be for me tomorrow?" the male replied; Oh my dear! We are going to have Thamabane meat. The female asked "why" the male told her that Thammabane could not answer Kabinlaphom questions and he would be killed.

The female birds went on to ask and the male repeated the question as written above.

The answers are as follows:

  • The first answer is: The tint of the body is in the face, so people clean the face in the morning.
  • The second answer is: The tint of the body is in the breast, so people take a bath in the day time.
  • The third answer is: The tint is in the legs, so people clean the feet and hands before going to bed in the evening.

Thamabane earful heard about these answers and remembered the meanings. Then returned to Kabinlaphom, and answered all questions perfectly.

Due to the bid, Kabinlaphom cut his head to pay respect to Thammabane. But to cut the head, Kabinlaphom had to advice his 7 daughters to keep his head because if his head fallen down on the land, the will be fired. If throwing his head into the air, the drought will come. There would be not rains and if throwing to the ocean, the ocean will become dry.

So his daughter took the golden plates to keep their father's head and placed it in the cave of Khanthoumali. Every year the girls made each turn to water their father head and place it back in Kao Soumeloulat.


Styles and symbols of the daughters are:

  • The 1st daughter is called Thoungsathevee

    Dressing in very luxurious clothing, she likes to eat Makdeua fruit. She brings the wheel in the right hand and Hoy Sang shell in her left hand and sitting on the back of the eagles.

  • The 2nd daughter is called Khorakha

    Dressing beautifully, she prefers sesame for food. She takes the sword in her right hand, a long walking stick in the left hand and sitting on the tiger back.

  • The 3rd is called Rarksa

    Dressing with Mola and big lotus. She prefers blood. Bringing the three pointed sword in her right hand and in her left hand is arrow. Her symbol is to sit on the big mouse back.

  • The 4th one is called Mountha

    Dressing in Phithoune saphire and Dokchampa flowers, she likes milk. Her symbol is to sit on the donkey back. She takes the needle in right hand and left hand with stick.

  • The 5th is called Kirinee

    Clothing in Morakot and Dokchampa, beans and seseam are her favourite food. She takes the riffles in her right and left hand with gun. Her special symbol is to sit on the elephant back.

  • The 6th is called Kinitha

    Dressing beautifully, decorated with white sapphire, prefer to have banana. Her symbol is to bring the sword in her right hand sword and left hand with mandolin. She sits on the buffalo back.

  • The 7th is called Manothone

    Her clothing decorated with Sapphire. She likes man meat. She takes the wheel in her right hand and three point's sword in her left hand. Her special sitting place is peacock.

All seven daughters called Nang Sangkhane


Starting the first day of Lao New Year, houses and villages are properly cleaned. In addition, perfume water, flowers are prepared. In the afternoon, villagers gather in the pagodas to make the Buddhist ceremonies, praying, listening to the precepts by the head of the monks. Then the Buddha images are placing in the watering house. They are kept in the opening space for three days.

Besides the Buddha images, people watered the monks, novices, pagoda houses, trees and others within the pagoda.


Then for respectation the youngs water the olds, the students water the monks for best wishes of long lives and prosperity. Following friends water friends. They do not only water themselves but the houses, worshiped things, animals and production tools are also washed by perfume water.

Initiatively, water festival is from the 7 daughters of Kobinlaphom to wash their father's head. Then the old people advised the people to wash the Buddha images as well. Nangsangkhane ceremony in Luangprabang and other places in Laos come from the history of the seven sisters of Kabinlaphom.

The respect that watering is the clean the bad and disease away and gain the best wishes for next year, full of long lives, clean bodies and health. The water to be used is made by perfume water from flowers or perfume things from nature.

Sand Stupa Making

There are two ways for sand stupas making. The first way is the monks and novices and local people go the sand beach and make the sand stupas as big as they like. The another way, the villagers brought the sand from the sand beach to make the sand stupa in the pagoda yard. The sand stupa decorated with many types of flags, flowers, white lime and watered by perfume water. Finally, the sand stupas are granted to the monks for merits making.

Sand Stupa can be used for construction work. Sand stupa is the symbol of Phoukaokailat mount where Kabinlaphom head was kept for his seven daughters for worshipping.

Animals Liberity

The provisiong of animals liberty is let the animals to free. This practice is to show the best merit making. The animals to be freed are: tortoises, fish, crabs, birds, eels, shell and so on. Some free the lives of animals as the same amouth of their ages. To free the animals is to give them lives. It is likely to protect the forest and environments.

Flowers Collection

Traditionally, Lao people collect the fresh flowers for the Buddha images. Some collected the flowers from the forests near by villages this practice is being done in the rural villages.

Fresh forest flowers collection is made in the afternoon. The head of the monk guide the monks, novices, nuns and villagers to the forests where many types of forest flowers could be collected. Traditional drums and other music instruments played. On the way back to the pagoda, the villagers who do not take part in the forest, brought many basketful of water for flowers washing.

In the evening, the olds and youngs gather in the pagodas for entertainment.

If any villages place the Buddha images in the caves of the mountains, Song Namphaphou, water the Buddha images in the mountains is called. It is like a picnic, sometimes monks and the villagers had lunch in the mount where running water is available. In some rural villages, the Buddha images are place more than three days for watering. Baci ceremony for Buddha images is being performed in some rural villages.

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