Bacci ceremony in Laos
The Bacci Ceremony is an ancient belief and has become a national custom of Laos, passed on from generation to generation. The observance of Bacci as a spiritual ceremonial event that was prevalent in Laos even before Buddhism made inroads into the country. It is a common heritage in Thailand and Laos, but it is done in its original format in Laos.
This practice is linked to the ancient belief that Bacci is invoked religiously to synchronize the effects of 32 organs of the human body considered as kwan, or the “components of the soul.” Its observance to establish a social and family bond to maintain “balance and harmony to the individual and community". The ceremony is usually held at important events and occasions, like births, marriages and also when entering the monk-hood, departing, returning, at the beginning a of a new year, and welcoming a new house, before moving in, and after recovery from an illness. The ritual involves tying strings around a person’s wrist, to preserve good luck and is performed by a senior person of the community, who has been a Buddhist monk at some stage of their life, and special arrangements are made for the occasion. The practice involves preparing the pah kwan (or the flower trays) and placing them at a central location for people to gather around, in reverential prayers. The pa kwan is normally prepared by the elderly ladies of the household or the community. The paw kwan is elaborately prepared and placed on a silver tray, on which a cone (or horn) made of banana leaves is placed at the centre and is decked with flowers and white cotton and silk threads tied to a bamboo stalk as flags. The decoration of flowers is of different flower types with specific connotation of dok huck (symbol of love), dok champi (longevity), dok daohuang (cheerfulness/brilliance) and so forth.
During the Baci ceremony, a white (symbolizes purity) thread of silk or cotton is tied on the right hand wrist of the individual who is being celebrated for his well-being and good luck, and also around the wrists of all guests who assemble to wish a person well. The thread is first knotted before tying it onto the wrist of the person to be blessed and the other guests. Before the thread is tied, the hand is held chest high as a mark of respect. The thread is worn by an individual normally for a minimum of three days and is untied after the time expires (the thread is not to be cut). Recommended practice is to allow the thread to fall off on its own. At the conclusion of the ceremony, a feast of food is offered to all guests, with bowls of rice wine. This is followed by revelry of Laotian dance and music.
Bacci is not specific only for Lao or Buddhists to do, but it’s widely opened for people from multiples religious or cultures to join and be involve in it. Therefore, it is strongly recommend for visitors to join when visiting Laos to touch a real authentic tradition, and bring with it a truly cultural experience.