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Country: Laos

Date: 2 September 2020


In the Laotian language, Boun means festival. Laotians annually celebrate multiple festivals. Among the most important festivals, there is the Boun Khao Salak, also known as the day of the dead, which is the celebration and remembrance of the ancestors and the dead.

This Buddhist celebration takes place on the tenth full moon of the lunar calendar at local temples throughout the country. On this day, people will get up very early to prepare the offerings including fruits, the best foods that they can cook and other things, with small papers about the ancestors that will be read publicy. These offerings then will be given to the monks.

This tradition is especially important for family members who passed away that year. If these family duties for the dead are missed, they are believed to have disastrous consequences. If the spirits do not receive offerings, they will bring bad luck to the living. On the contrary, they will be reborn in good condition.

After finishing the offerings to the monks, laypeople will listen to the sermons of the monks that will remind them to do good deeds such as saying good words, having good thoughts, not drinking alcohol and not telling lies. Then, water will be poured on the ground to give merit to the dead.

In the evening, flowers, candles and incense will be brought to the temple to pray to the Buddha. After receiving the wishes and holding a candlelight procession, people will circulate 3 times around the main temple, which is popular among teenagers and young adults.

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