Boun Ok Phansa and Boat Racing Festival


The festival held after the end of the monks’ three-month fast and retreat during the rainy season (Boun Khao Pansa). At dawn on the first day,donations and offerings are made at temples around the city. In the evening, candlelight processions are held at temples and hundreds of colorful floats decorated with flowers, incense and candles are set adrift down the Mekong River to pay respect to the river spirit. The following day in Vientiane, Savannakhet and Champasack Province, a popular and exciting boat racing competition is held to celebrate the Mekong River.
Boun Ok Phansa is celebrated at the end of the rainy season with fabulous boat races and festivities along the Mekong River in Vientiane, Laos in honour of the Naga king. After three months retreat during the Bhuddist lent, the monks return to their social duties and are welcomed with offerings of food and gifts. The legend of Ok Phansa goes that the Lord Buddha retreated to heaven to visit his mother who died seven days after his birth. After a three months stay, the Lord Buddha returned to earth and was welcomed with great joy and excitement. Even the gods and goddesses joined in the festivities to welcome him as he descended from heaven on the triple stairways of gold, silver and precious gems, with an escort of angels. The people made special offerings of foods, flowers and gifts to celebrate the return of the Lord Buddha. Before the festivities begin, everyone cleans their home to rid bad spirits which may have taken up residence during the rainy season. Families then walk down to the river carrying beautifully carved wax candles in the shape of temples or boats, which they light and set adrift on the mighty Mekong, a ceremony which is thought to give the person releasing the craft very good karma for the coming season.