Main Contents Luang Prabang and Its Art Furniture and Statuary Beliefs and Religions Population and Habitat



Beliefs and Religions


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The last day of the year is a day of physical and moral purification. It is the day when the spirit of the world ascends to the sky to report on all of mankind's acts during the past year. Therefore, the faithful must try to have their sins pardoned by accomplishing commendable acts. Therefore, at sunrise everyone goes to the market where live animals are sold. Thirties, fish, birds ... will be liberated on the same day by the buyers to make amends for their sins against living beings during the past year. At the end of the morning, Buddha statues from every vat are transferred, exhibited and sprinkled with holy water. In the afternoon, sand stupas are traditionally erected at Done Xay Moungkhoune. These stupas symbolize the great holy mountains of India - each grain of sand expiates a sin. On the intercalary day, mu nao, a procession of the faithful of Vat Vixun, Vat Aham, Vat May, Vat That and Vat Chomsi visit the Vat Xieng Thong to sprinkle the Buddha statues.

Pou Gneu Gna Gneu, the tutelary spirits of the city, and Sing Keo Sing Kham, the little lion, dance at Vat Xieng Thong. The masked dancers wearing costumes of vegetable fibers personify Pou Gneu and Gna Gneu. According to the local legend of creation, these mythical persons made the earth appear by stamping on the immense ocean that covered the world. These mystical persons planted gourd seeds wherefrom man appeared. Thanks to the little lion that they had captured in the Himalayas and tamed, they eliminated a beast that terrorized the region of Luang Prabang. As compensation for all their deeds before their deaths, they requested that the inhabitants make effigies of themselves and the small lion. Every New Year, as protection against the country's destruction, they should dance at both ends of the town.

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