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Time-Honoured Wax Castle Procession Pays Homage To That Luang Stupa

Source: Vientiane Times

Thousands of Buddhists decorated their colourful pasaatpheung (wax castles) with candles, flowers, money and incense as they joined the annual procession yesterday to pay homage to the That Luang stupa.

The wax castle procession left from Vat Simeuang temple to wait at Vieng Chalern Road while residents of Vientiane’s nine districts, students, businesspeople and organisations brought pasaatpheung of various sizes to join the event.

In celebration of major events such as the That Luang festival, locals often hold a ceremony to pay homage to the city pillar located here, which dates from the time of King Khounboulom.

The parade started from Vieng Chalern Road and moved towards the stupa with participants singing, playing traditional instruments and performing traditional dances.

The procession was led by monks and government officials as well as worshippers dressed in traditional clothing and made its way slowly along the street and through the entrance to the stupa.

Gleaming golden pasaatpheung festooned with money trees were accompanied by traditional musicians, making the procession a striking depiction of Lao tradition during Visit Laos Year 2018.

Ethnic groups dressed in formal attire performed time-honoured dances with traditional instruments as many broke into festive folksinging.

The so-called wax castles are considered a very worthy offering to Buddha. According to legend, a monkey once offered honey to Buddha and was reborn as a human. This is symbolised in the use of honey in the wax as well as being a symbol of solidarity among communities, as everyone comes together to pay homage to the grand stupa.

A resident of Sokpaluang village, Ms Bua Chansouly, who was taking part in the procession, said it was a once a year opportunity to bring pasaatpheung to the stupa and to ask for happiness in her life.
She believed the event would also help overseas visitors learn about the Lao traditions that have been preserved for generations.

This morning sees thousands of devotees give alms to hundreds of monks from around the country on the That Luang esplanade.

In the afternoon, people gather to watch a traditional game of tikhy (hockey) between state officials and members of the public, which takes place on the esplanade and is intended to build solidarity after the harvest season.

The festival comes to an end tonight when people from all over Laos will gather at the stupa for a spectacular candlelight procession.