That Luang Festival Trade Fair Kicks Off

The That Luang festival trade fair officially kicked off on the esplanade yesterday, featuring a tempting display of domestic and imported products that will delight shoppers until November 17.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, festival organising committee Chairman, Mr Saithong Keoduangdy, said the festival and the trade fair are nationally important events that take place every year and are highly anticipated.

This year the fair at the That Luang esplanade comprises 510 stalls and stages displaying performances, food items, and industrial and handicraft products from Vientiane, foreign embassies in the capital, international organisations and other bodies.

“The value of the goods on display at the That Luang esplanade is about 27.74 billion kip. Meanwhile the value of products on sale at Lao-ITECC is over 13.8 billion kip,” said Mr Saithong, who is the Vice Mayor of Vientiane.

The That Luang festival itself will take place from November 15-17.

The trade fair at Lao-ITECC, which runs from November 8-17, displays products from Laos and other countries, with a large number of stalls set up both inside and outside the centre.

According to the organising committee, there are 350 booths inside the building selling products supplied by various provinces in Laos, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia to Laos, and businesses in Vientiane.

Shoppers can also browse 110 booths in the grounds outside, which sell goods from Thailand as well as industrial and handicraft products made in Vientiane.

But religion is at the heart of the festival and on November 15 colourful wax castle processions will take place at Vat Simeuang, Vat Inpeng, Vat Ongteu and at That Luang itself.

On November 16 the grand wax castle procession will depart from the Patuxay monument along 23 Singha Road, led by monks, government officials and other groups.

The next day 6,000 monks will take part in an almsgiving ceremony at the That Luang stupa, with ministers from six Asean countries and Lao government officials in attendance.

On November 17, a traditional tikhi match will be played on the esplanade. The game resembles hockey and will pit a team of ordinary people against government officials. As every year, the game will be played at 2pm. That night, the festival will culminate in a spectacular candlelight procession around the stupa, after which a fireworks show will bring the festivities to a close.

On each night of the festival, artists from the different provinces will perform folksongs, Lam Leuang and other traditional forms of Lao music, while pop groups will entertain the younger set.

Deputy Prime Minister Asang Laoly was present at yesterday’s opening ceremony along with other government officials and Vientiane authorities.

Source: Vientiane Times