Three ancient Buddha statues that were taken from Laos many decades ago have been returned after being retrieved from a Lao Buddhist temple in Paris.
Buddhists gathered on Thursday at Ongteu Temple to venerate and welcome the return of the treasured images.
According to a Lao diplomatic envoy in Paris, Mr Bounthong Chanthapaseuth, the abbot of the temple in Paris said the three sitting Buddha images were given to the temple by a Lao woman many years ago after the death of her husband.
She was informed that the statues had been taken from Laos during the time of the Lane Xang Kingdom.
Mr Bounthong said the abbot decided that the statues should be returned to Laos.
He said he was proud of the goodwill and cooperation between the Lao Embassy in Paris and Lao expats and monks in France, which had enabled the ancient Buddha images to be returned.
Speaking at Thursday’s ceremony, a member of the Lao Front for National Development, Mr Hiem Phommachanh, who is also the Front’s Counsellor Head of Lao Expatriates, told those present about the diplomatic attempts to bring back the statues, which he said was done in line with international treaties.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the Vice President of the Lao Buddhism Fellowship Organisation, the Most Venerable Maha Bounma Simmavong, said the successful return of the statues reflected the friendship between Laos and France.
The wives of Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, Mrs Naly Sisoulith and Mrs Alounny Kommasith respectively, led devotees in lighting candles to pay respect to the statues, which will be placed next to the large Buddha statue inside Ongteu temple.
Almsgiving and other religious rituals took place on Friday morning in honour of the images.
A handover ceremony will take place at an appropriate time, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism will co-host.