Source: Vientiane Times
The pouring of purified perfumed water to ceremonially shower Buddha images in temples by members of the public would typically occur across the country during next week’s Lao New Year period.
This year, to minimize the risk of spreading the viral Covid-19 outbreak, the Central Buddhist Fellowship Organisation of Laos Headquarters’ Office announced the temporary suspension of the tradition.
It is understood that to suspend the traditional rituals of pouring water onto Buddha image may assist in reducing the risk of spread of the virus among the population.
Traditionally during Lao New Year, the ceremonial showering of water onto images of the Buddha has been one of the heartfelt religious devotions as well as a traditional annual cultural activity.
Each year sees many devotees from the community attend to pour purified perfumed water and pray or meditate in contemplation and dedication to the example set by Buddha for good luck and health.
To minimize the risk of further spreading the Covid-19 outbreak, the Central Buddhist Fellowship Organization of Laos Headquarters’ Office signed the notice on April 7 addressed to provincial Buddhist monk committees nationwide to cancel the public ceremonial showering of Buddha images and related activities.
As per Lao tradition, each temple will proceed with a small, closed ceremony to pour water on Buddha images attended by the monks of the temple, in which residents and other lay folks will not be permitted to participate.
While the ceremonial showering of Buddha images in temples has temporarily been suspended, devotees may still shower water over Buddha images within their home.
Canceled also are many other traditional activities of Lao New Year festival that involve large crowds.
These include Miss Lao New Year contest (Nang Sang Khan), fair market, water splashing on the sidewalk, the making of a sand stupa to bring good luck, and other proceedings that attract many attendees.
Meanwhile, the service at tourist sites in provinces temporarily closed to minimize the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak.
The Lao government has supported these cancellations to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Provinces have postponed or canceled festivals and annual events to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Among events not going ahead as planned is the celebration of Hai Hin’s listing as a World Heritage Site and the National Games scheduled in Xieng Khuang.
Celebrations for the Kapok Festival in Bokeo province and Boun Phee Ta Khon festival in Xayaboury province have also been postponed.
Cancellation has also struck the annual national Best Students’ exams. Currently, the Coronavirus outbreak continues to increase globally.
Laos is working to identify additional cases of infection with the virus causing Covid-19. To date, Laos has 14 known cases of Covid-19 related viral infection, the health authorities confirmed on April 7.
As of April 6, reports showed that Covid-19 had spread to 209 countries and territories, with 1,342,265 infected cases reported, according to the Ministry of Health.