Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Happy Lao New Year!

Over the past few days, we’ve been celebrating Lao New Year. At the MCC office, we celebrated by visiting various government ministries and presenting them with a mounted poster depicting a Lao girl fishing. The poster was part of the 10 year anniversary of MCC periodical "Common Place." For this issue, they followed up on a story they wrote for the first issue of "Common Place" which was about the UXO (unexploded ordnance) situation in Laos. It is common to visit and give gifts at New Years and we like to do so as well because it gives us an excuse to meet with government officials for a friendly talk -- no work-related agenda. Usually people give a gift of food or beverages so the poster needed some explanation. We took this occasion to share about MCC’s work in Laos over the past 32 years and our work in North America.

Explaining the poster and presenting it. (Two different places.)

We also attended a party where there was a baci (Lao string-tying ceremony) and a lunch afterward. This was followed by pour water on each other as a form of blessing. April is usually the hottest month in Laos, so pouring water on friends is a real blessing!

Lao people celebrate New Years by cleaning house, wearing new clothes and washing their Buddha images (if they are Buddhist). Temples are busy with people making offerings of fruit and flowers.

People also like to hang out in groups and wish other groups a Happy New Year. Sometimes they travel in the back of their trucks and take the party on the road.

These two little ones, really got into the spirit of water blessings!