Thousands of people from all over the country and from all walks of life gathered on Saturday at the Luang Prabang National Museum, the former Loyal Palace, for the relocation ceremony of the sacred Prabang image from its former home in the Museum to the new Hor (shrine) Prabang, its permanent home.
Cast in Sri Lanka and given to the Khmer royal family then on to former Lao King Fa Ngum, the Prabang Buddha image has been in Laos for over 600 years. After being moved many times during this time it finally has a permanent home.
The new home, Hor Prabang, has been a long time coming. First planned in 1993 it was finally completed in 2011 but only ready to received its very important resident this year.
The government chose the three days necessary for the relocation ceremony to be December 14 to 16.
Led by the President of Laos, Mr Chommaly Sayasone, supported by Deputy Prime Ministers Mr Somsavat Lengsavad and Mr Asang Laoly followed by provincial governors and deputy governors, ministers and deputy ministers, district governors and related high ranking officials the Prabang was transported first in a vehicular procession around the city so all residents could view its magnificence then, about one kilometre from the Hor Prabang the parade turned into a walking procession for the final distance.
Most of the top officials wore traditional Lao suits and carried a bowl and floral display (makbeng) with yellow flowers, while others wore the red and green suit of the king’s guards in former times.
President Choummaly Sayasone ( fourth left ) and high ranking officials lead the procession for the relocation of the Prabang on Saturday in Luang Prabang province. Photo Keoxoumphou.
Shortly before the start of the proceedings there was a slight shower of rain, not enough to dampen anyone’s spirits but enough to cool the temperature. This was deemed both lucky and traditional as the devout believe it always rains a little when the Prabang is moved.
Deputy PM Somsavat opened the proceedings with a speech on the history of the Prabang and the building of th e new Hor Prabang which was followed by President Chommaly officially welcoming the Prabang to its new home.
The Prabang image was then brought inside and placed in its permanent place.
In his speech Mr Somsavat said “This is considered one of the most important events on the Lao government agenda. It shows the commitment of the Lao government to preserving and promoting Lao culture and the value of Lao heritage. The Prabang is of significant value to this country and encapsulates much of the long history of Laos.”
During the three days of ceremony there were traditional performances and singing in the palace lasting throughout each night. Other activities included a Pha Pa Samakhy and alms giving.
The Prabang has long been seen by devout Buddhists as a major national treasure. Each year on the third day of Pimai, or Lao New Year, the Prabang is taken by procession to Vat Mai where it is exhibited at a shrine and ritually bathed by the masses during the festivities.
“I woke up quite early this morning to get ready to travel to the ceremony from my village, and I feel deeply happy to see the Prabang today,” said a passionate 65 year old, Mrs Khamnang carrying a bowl of flowers for worshiping the Prabang and walking with a group of similarly aged friends all from the same village in Luang Prabang district.
Like Mrs Khamnang, many participants travelled from different parts of the country and some from neighbouring countries as well, just to attend the ceremony.
Source: Vientiane Times