On the 14th October 2019 this year, the annual Festival of Lights or Boun Heua Fai in Laos is scheduled to take place, which attracts both local people and tourists. It is also called the “Festival of Fire Boat,” as on that day, the handmade boat processions will be illuminated with candles. It brightens the Mekong River with the illuminated and decorated boats.
What is the Festival of Lights in Laos?
Festival of Lights in Laos occurs at the end of the rainy season, on the full moon of the 11th lunar month. So, the festive day will vary each year. People celebrate the festival with the illuminated boat processions made from bamboo and banana trunks, brightly colored with candles, flowers, and votive money. The belief is to wish for good luck and to do homage to the “Spirit of the Water.” In that sense, each family and each person have to prepare their boats and then release the boats on the mighty Mekong River. Often, there are more than 20.000 boats that are slowly floating on the river during the festive night.
Not only lighting up the river corners, but the festival also brightens the streets with colorful parades. In Luang Prabang, there will be a big parade of the villagers of the town who gather to release their big boats on the Mekong for competition. The most beautiful and shining boat will be the winner. Meanwhile, ethnic groups are likely to wear their traditional costumes, some are singing while the others are chanting or dancing. What’s more, the sky becomes incredible with fireworks.
Join Boun Heua Fai for an evening of wishes
If traveling to Laos on the festive day (the full moon of the 11th lunar month), you will be able to attend the Festival of Lights filled with shimmering candles, floating boats, fireworks, lanterns, and smiling Laos residents. In the big cities like Luang Prabang and Vientiane, it’s easy to take part in the colorful event by visiting the lavishly-decorated temples on that day. You just need to join the crowd of the temple-goers who are wearing the traditional Laos clothing and heading toward the nearby river.
As the night becomes darker, people will start lighting the candles, fire boats, and lanterns. The smokes and the light will establish the enchanting evening of wishes. The “boat of light” will be set free on the Mekong to wish for the best and pay respect to the spirits. Before that, each participant will work as the silent prayer wishing luck and health, and then release the boat to float on the river. The participation in Boun Heua Fai will help take away the bad luck and welcome the good fortune. You might find that the riverbank is slippery, so be careful to place the boat in the water. Also, it’s likely to see people lighting a fire boat made from banana leaves and filled with twinkling candles and flowers. There will be others eating and drinking along the riverbank that excites the evening. And, in the sky, the firework is doing its jobs to illuminate everything it touches.
There are numerous interesting photos about Laos’ Festival of Lights Boun Heua Fai which can inspire tourists to visit the country on a festive day if possible. You can only tell how you feel when you set the boat of wishes be free on the Mekong via the in-person participation. The illuminated sky with fireworks, the exciting streets with lanterns, and the sparkling river with fire boats will result in the best evening of wishes that you will enjoy a real sense of excitement in the air.