Vietnam Time

4/13/2018 9:09:54 AM

April, the festive month in Vietnam's neighbor countries

(VNF) -  Similar to the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet), Songkran, Bunpimay and Chol Chnam Thmay are respectively the most important traditional festival in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Specially, they all take place in April.

Songkran (Thailand)

Songkran is an annual festival which takes place over three days during the traditional Thai New Year, April 13th-15th (in almost all provinces). The official Songkran festival lasts three days but in reality the whole week is taken over by a mass celebration as the whole country shuts down for a momentous water fight.

Wild scenes can be seen throughout the Kingdom with music, dancing, drinking and people drenched from head to toe. Water guns, hose pipes, buckets, in fact, anything you can get your hands on can be used to splash water onto people, and one thing is for certain: you will get wet!


Nowadays, the throwing of water is the festival’s highlight (source: Zing News)

As April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand, everyone gets involved with this country-wide water fight and it brings great relief from the soaring temperatures. Songkran started as a Buddhist tradition, using a light sprinkling of water to symbolise purification but, as time went by, people began splashing each other in a more playful manner until recent years, when the entire country becomes one almighty water fight celebrated by millions.

If you are traveling to Thailand in this period of time, you can opt for a colorful, vibrant celebration of Songkran in Bangkok (hugest dance-party), Pattaya, Phuket (beach party) or a calmer celebration in Chiang Mai where you can visit many temples within the Old City.

Some tips to enjoy Songkran in Thailand:

*Sunglasses will protect your eyes from water.

*Use a waterproof pouch to protect valuables.

*Don’t wear white – it goes see-through when wet

*Monks are highly respected in Thailand, so never throw water at them.

*Avoid driving motorbikes during Songkran.

*Wet tiled floors will be slippery, so be careful of your footing. 

Bupimay (Laos)

Laos New Year Festival – Bunpimay (aka Pi Mai, Pee Mai, or Koud Songkran) takes place from April 14 to April 16 every year.

On the festival, people douse water on each other to pray for luck, peace, and prosperity for a whole year.

Bunpimay is meaningful and enjoyable. According to Laotian people's belief, it symbolizes wealth and health to all living creatures on the earth. In addition, it helps reinforce and cultivate the national art and culture in Laos.

Water festival is the most dynamic and exciting occasion for the overseas guests to mingle with the crowd. As noted, on the first day of Bunpimay, people will do some cleanup work, to make their houses clean, fragrant, and tidy. 

Kết quả hình ảnh cho bunpimay buộc chỉ

Laotian students celebrate the Bunpimay festival in Vietnam (source:

In the afternoon, they gather at the pagodas to do homage to the Buddha statues, listen to the monks’ teaching, and pray for the goodness. After that, the Buddha statues are brought to the separated compartment which is kept open for pilgrims to wash them, respectfully.

The fragrant water, already used to wash the sacred Buddha images, can be taken home to apply on the skins which are believed to bring luck and happiness. To show respect and love, the young people will throw water to the elders, wishing them longevity and health. Meanwhile, friends douse water on the others to exchange the best wishes.

The Laotians believe that water can help erase the badness, sickness, and evil spirit. Water brings health, purity, and luck to the receipients.

The other beautiful ritual is giving the fresh flowers to the holy Buddha statues. In the afternoon, the monks and the villagers will pick fresh flowers and offer them to the Buddha statues or altars.

Tying wrists is an indispensible ritual during Bunpimay. Guests who come to the local houses first will be welcomed with the beautiful ritual: tying wrists with the blue or red threads. The color embodies the happiness and health. So, if you are lucky enough to experience this ritual, enjoy it.

In addition, eating Laap is the traditional ritual in Laos. In the Laos’ language, “Laap” means luck and prosperity. In this rustic country, Laap is cooked from the spiced chicken or beef. Often, people enjoy Laap with the hot sticky rice, and every family should have this dish on the festival days. According to many cultural experts, Laap is considered as the culinary soul of the Laotians in the New Year.

Chol Chnam Thmay (Cambodia)

The Khmer New Year – Chol Chnam Thmay is one of the most important holidays in the Khmer culture. On this occasion, people stop their work and spend three days to visit relative's houses and spend time with their family. The Khmer New Year is celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar from April 13 to 15.

(In Vietnam, Chol Chnam Thmay is also widely celebrated among the Khmer community in Vietnam, especially in the Can Tho, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, An Giang and Kien Giang, in the Mekong Delta).

Chủ tịch Trần Thanh Mẫn thăm, chúc Tết Chôl Chnăm Thmây đồng bào dân tộc Khmer TP Cần Thơ

Vietnam Fatherland Front's Vice President joins the celebration of Chol Chnam Thmay with Khmer people in Ninh Kieu city, Can Tho province (source: Dai Doan Ket)

This is the time Cambodian marks the end of the harvest season and relaxes after a long time of hard working, Although people on these days often spend so much time on visiting temple, the Khmer New Year is not all about a religious festival. This holiday combines the traditional ceremony and national ceremony.

Similar to the ritual of Laotian people to celebrate Bunpimay, Cambodians clean Buddha statues with perfurmed water berfore Chol Chnam Thmay

At home, the Khmer need to do the spring cleaning up and arrange the altars. At the temple, entrances are decorated with coconut leaves and vibrant flowers. The prayers often bring food, dessert and every day – use items to the pagoda. They believe that these stuff will reach the ancestors through the monks. It also believed that the more they donate, the more fortunes their bygone ancestors will bestow on them.

The first day is celebrated as a welcoming ceremony for the new angels of the year. On this day, the people will clean up their home and prepare food offerings to be blessed by the monks. 

The second day will be the time for remembering one’s elders. The Khmer come to temples to celebrate a ceremony called 'bang scole' to honor their ancestors. Khmer also donate to the poor and unlucky on this day.

In this period of time, you will not see the crowded cities as usual as Khmer come back to their hometown to gather with their family and enjoy the New Year atmosphere. Most stores will close in these days.

Most of the cities are deserted during this time of year, and most services shut down altogether. But if you want to see the local color of the holidays, don't worry, the pagodas and temples are open.

In Phnom Penh, the best place to be during the New Year is the temple of Wat Phnom, where the Khmer congregate to play traditional games, watch traditional performances, and throw talcum powder at each other.

Meanwhile, the city of Siem Reap uses its proximity to the Angkor Archaeological Park to its advantage. The Khmer New Year coincides with the Angkor Sankranta new year celebration, marked by exhibits of Khmer cultural arts (games, dancing, and martial arts) around the Angkor temples, and several nights of street parties down the infamous Pub Street district./.

  ( Phi Yen )
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