Source: Vientiane Times
Provinces across the country will organise scaled-down events to celebrate Lao New Year (Pi Mai Lao) from April 14-16 this year, to avoid large public gatherings and prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Prime Minister’s Office has instructed all provinces to mark the New Year by observing traditional rituals but to forego public gatherings.
The move comes as the pandemic continues to affect numerous countries, including Laos’ neighbours, putting Laos at risk of falling victim to the virus. The government has advised everyone to take precautions and follow the guidelines to prevent the virus from crossing borders and spreading into Laos.
Activities banned over Lao New Year include cultural performances, concerts, Miss Lao New Year beauty contests and processions, and street fairs in public areas except where approved by the government. Cultural performances at temples, public areas and river beaches are also banned. In addition, people are banned from throwing dirty or coloured water in streets and other public places.
Members of the public are urged to celebrate the New Year based on traditional customs and to hold small baci and religious ceremonies in their homes, offices and temples.
Director of the Vientiane Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Ms Vilayvone Chanthalaty, told Vientiane Times that events in the capital will be limited to small-scale gatherings at shopping centres, when visitors can enjoy food and wear traditional dress.
People can also go the banks of the Mekong to make sand stupas, as is customary during Pi Mai Lao. However, no concerts or large gatherings will be allowed by the river, in other public places, at temples or in homes, Ms Vilayvone said. The department is also warning people not to obstruct traffic, noting that in previous years some people have waved down drivers so they can pour water over them.
The Governor of Vangvieng district in Vientiane province, Mr Bounchan Malavong, told Vientiane Times the province will also refrain from organising public gatherings and celebrations will be limited to traditional rituals such as pouring water over Buddha images at temples. District officials will be stationed at each temple to prevent crowds forming and to remind visitors of the rules regarding the prevention of Covid-19.
District authorities are also advising business operators about required standards of accommodation and service, as well as warning them not to raise the price of food over the Lao New Year holiday.