September is known as the month of Boun Khao Salak, a Buddhist festival in Laos. In spite of being one of the most somber festivals, Boun Khao Salak is somehow colorful that makes September one of the months deserve to visit.

Boun Khao Salak Festival

  • Time: 10th full moon of the lunar calendar, usually falls in September
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Location: Luang Prabang
  • Meaning: The festival is held to celebrate and remember the dead.
Boun Khao Salak Festival

Before Boun Khao Salak Festival, Laos temples are clean, shining and colourfully decorated

Early this day, Laotians will visit the local temples to make offerings to the monks on behalf of dead ancestors to obtain merit. Large food trays are brought to the monks, with several best dishes that families prepare. All the people will bring that offerings with a piece of papers talking about ancestors, that will be read publicly. The food is eaten by the monk receiving the tray who transmits the giver’s merit to the honored dead. It is particularly essential to give offerings in this way for family members who have died that year. To miss these family duties to the deceased, has disastrous consequences, as bad luck will prevail to the living, if the spirit does not receive offerings.

Boun Khao Salak Festival

Laotians visit the local temples to make offering to the monksduring Boun Khao Salak Festival

In the evening, a candlelit procession is organized. First, the head monk at the temple chants from the Buddhist texts. Then lay people walk in a clockwise direction three times around the the central building. It is important to keep your right side towards the buiding. Afterwards the candles, incense and flowers are placed near the side of the building. Besides the candlelit procession, there are a large number of fascinating longboat-racing competitions held to celebrate the Mekong River during this festival. The river, at this time, is very beautiful, lively and fabulous with carved red boats.