Thursday, November 29, 2007

That Luang Festival

That Luang is the most important national symbol of Laos. Pictures of the stupa are found on Lao money, stamps, crests, seals and all important documents. A stupa is a monument that houses an important item. Tradition says that That Luang holds a piece of the breastbone of the Buddha from the 3rd centruy BC.

Each November at the time of the full moon there is a big festival at That Luang. This year we attended and joined tens of thousands of people to celebrate the last evening of a week-long celebration. There was lots of great food, music, dancing and fireworks.

On the night we were there, there was a wien thien (circumambulation) around That Luang but the crowds were too thick for us to get inside the main entrance. So we just watched the fireworks from the parade grounds in front.

Here is a group of MCC visitors visiting That Luange before the festival started.

The different levels of the stupa are decorated with 120 lotus petals and 30 smaller stupas.

The main tall spire is 4-sided and is made to resemble an elogated lotus bud. The lotus in Buddhism represents human nature because it grows out from the muddy lake bottom to bloom beautifully on the surface. The belief is that when people have been enlightened through Buddhism, they become beautiful, like the lotus flower.
The monument is covered in gold-leaf and was re-guilded in 1995.