The traditional Lao calendar is a solar-lunar mixed. The year itself is a rocketed by solar phases while the months are divided according to lunar phases. The Lao Buddhist Era (BE) calendar started in 638 BC.
Festivals in Laos are largely linked to agricultural seasons or historical Buddhist holidays and the general word for festival in Lao is “BOUN.”
International New Year’s Day
Boun Pha Vet: This temple centered festival cerebrate the birth of Prince Vessanthara, the Buddha’s penultimate existance. The jataka or birth story of Buddha is recited. This is the favored time for Lao men to become ordained as a monk. Festivities are staggered between villages so that different villages can visit one another to their celebrations.
Boun Ma Kha Bu Saar (Full Moon): This celebration commenorates a speech given by the Buddha in which he laid down the first monastic regulations and predicted his own death. The speech was heard by 1250 enlightened monks who arrived without prior summons. The festival is to celebrate with chanting and presenting offering carious Vat throughout the country. The biggest celebrations take place at the Khmer ruins of Vat Phu Champasack.
Boun Khoun Khao: Harvest festival are cerebrated in various villages throughout the month.
Boun Pi Mai: Pi Mai means “new year” and it is the time when the Lao cerebrates the start of their Lunar calendar year. Practically, the entry country grinds to a half for the festivities. Houses are cleaned, people wear new clothes and Buddha images are washed with holy water and this festival makes one of the best time to visit Laos.
Boun Visakha Bu Saar (Full Moon): Starting on the day of the sixth lunar month, this cerebration commemorates the birth, enlightenment and parinibbana (death) of Buddha. The festival is based and visitors can see chanting and sermonizing at night followed by beautiful candlelight processions.
Boun Bang Fai “Rocket Festival”: Various villages throughout the country take part in one that most boisterous festivals on the Lao calendar. This festival dated back to pre-Buddhist times and featuring home made rockets that are fired into the clouds to ask for rain as well as it amidst a great deal of raucous chanting and merry making.
Boun Haw Khao Salaack (Full Moon): Prayers and offerings are made to the deads at the temples around the countries.