May 4, 2013

0629 LAOS (Luang Prabang) - Nang Songkran at Luang Prabang

Songkran refer to the celebration of the New Year by the people from Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, but also by the some minorities of Vietnam, Yunnan province of China, Sri Lanka and eastern of India, when the sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac. In Laos is also named Pii Mai, and lasts generally for three days, from April 13 to April 15, with few exceptions, like Luang Prabang, where lasts a week. The first day is the last day of the old year, the second is the "day of no day", and the last one marks the start of the new year.

During the festival is used water for washing the homes, Buddha images, monks, and soaking friends and passers-by. A way to make merit at this time is to set animals free, the most commonly being tortoises, fish, crabs, birds, eels, and other small animals. During the daytime almost everybody is at the temple worshipping, but in the evening the people go to the wat for entertainment, the most important being the spectacles with traditional Lao music, mawlum, and lumvong (circle dancing).

In those days there are many beauty pageants throughout the country, but Luang Prabang - the old capital - is widely known for its Nang Songkran pageant, which end with the coronation of Pbeemai Lao (Miss Lao New Year). Participates seven contestants, each one symbolizing one of King Kabinlaphom's seven daughters. The prediction for the New Year will be made according to that particular day of the Nang Songkran.

If Miss Songkran prefers the nuts and the sesame seeds, the year will be productive, prosperous and healthy, if she likes the blood, will be a bloody year with quarrels, if she prefers to carry a gun, the weather would be full of thunderstorms, and so on. Miss Songkran from the postcard wears the traditional garment of the Lao women, a sinh, which is a simple tube skirt made of silk, consists of three different parts: the houa sinh (waistband), pheun sinh (body, main part) and the tdin sinh (hem).

About the stamps

The first stamp is part of a series dedicat to the temple Wat Simuang, issued on December 7, 2009:
• (4,000 LAK) - it's on other postcard
• (5,000 LAK) - it's on the postcard
• (6,000 LAK) - it's on other postcard

The second is part of the series Wildlife Conservation, issued on July 13, 2011:
Asian Elephant (1,000 LAK)
Tiger (3,000 LAK)
Saola (5,000 LAK)
Red-shanked Douc Langur (8,000 LAK)

The third is part of the series The Jars of Alcohol, issued on August 11, 2009:
• A Jars of Alcohol (1,000 LAK)
• A Jars of Alcohol (2,000 LAK)
• A Jars of Alcohol (5,500 LAK)

Lao New Year - Wikipedia
Songkran Queen - Songkran
Sinhs (Lao skirt fabric) - Laos Essential Artistry

Sender: Xu Wei (direct swap)
Sent from Wattay Airport (Vientiane Prefecture / Laos), on 10.04.2013
Photo: Song Phonepaseuth