Sok Dee Pii Mai
At GVI Luang Prubang we have just been treated to the “Pii Mai Laos” celebrations, the very important New Year revelry where you let your hair down and bring good luck for the coming year.
There was a week long holiday and the whole city celebrated with dozens of activities, with the most obvious being massive water fights in the streets. As a result we needed to keep our phones, cameras, watches etc well waterproofed and have the expectation that our clothes will be drenched with coloured water. Classes were cancelled and the normally demure Lao people showed their true colours.
Our activities included watching the city parade and the presentation of Miss Pii Mai. The local’s New Year market covered the centre of town and sold everything from knives to ‘offerings’ to balloons to chicks. There was a nightly performance of the Ramayana showcasing beautiful costumes and dancing.
On Tuesday, after a massive water fight out the front of our guesthouse, we headed across the Nam Khan River to join the locals in building and decorating a sand Stupa. We added a unique GVI touch to ours and it was wonderful to see it still standing throughout the week. A special part of the week for GVI volunteers was a visit to Wat Pasaviet with a tour of the temple from Novice Valee and listening to their chanting.
New Year’s Day, Thursday, saw most of the town turn out at 5.30am to visit their temples and receive a blessing. Many of the GVI crew walked up Phousi Hill, the sacred mountain in the centre of town, to pay their respects. Once the serious part of the day was over the town resumed emptying the water supply over the streets and onto anyone brave enough to venture out. The bars were full, dancing was enjoyed by all and most people received some sort of dyeing and drenching.
Nikki and Mel got an unofficial first prize for the best ‘falang’ (meaning foreigner) camouflage, having been blessed in coloured dye powder and grease from head to toe. This week has been truly spectacular and one to remember, looking forward to hopefully returning for Pii Mai in the future and would recommend the experience to anyone looking for a Laos adventure!
Written by 8 week Volunteer Shirley
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