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Buddhists, Devotees Lay Out Ancestral Offerings for Annual Feast

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People in Laos celebrated the Buddhist feast day of HorKhaopadapdin nationwide by getting up in the dark and early hours of morning to follow the time-honoured tradition of dedicating special food packets to ancestral spirits.

It is believed to be a day when spirits are released from the underworld to eat and drink for the year ahead.

Many devotees woke up at 3am or even earlier and more eagerly in order to best meet and serve their family’s ancestral spirits before sunrise.

With offerings in hand they proceeded to a temple in their community to place prepared ‘HorKhaopadapdin’ food packets, special parcels of food dedicated to the deceased.

These packets are placed on the grounds both inside and outside of temples, at the feet of local stupas and under old and well established trees deemed suitably sacred.

Meanwhile some villagers also place packets of food outside their houses.

After placement they pray silently to invite spirits to receive the food offered.

They believe that this action that could help to feed the ancestors spirits as well as other souls that suffer without family or friends to pray for them.

As in other Lao festivals, on this day people do various religious activities such as going to almsgiving in the morning about 6am, offerings during the day time, and joining in candlelit processions in the evening.

They dedicate merit to the dead by lighting a candle and incense and pour water after giving alms and offerings.

According to the teaching of Buddha and local custom alike, to show love, respect, and gratitude to others including ones ancestors is worthy conduct that contributes to happy life and bright future for individual, family and community in love, peace and solidarity.

Buddhists in Laos enjoy following and preserving this tradition of giving to monks, and dedicating merit offerings to the spirits.

Venerable SouksavanhSisouvan of Nongsavang village temple in Chanthabouly district told Vientiane Times the HorKhaopadapdin festival teaches people to make good through mindfulness and gratitude.

“People should pay attention to show respect and gratitude to the parents and elders, then thank them by doing something for them on this day or at any time,” he said.

“On festivals days, elders should lead their children to the temple for making merit, praying, listening to the Buddha’s teachings (Dhamma) and practise meditation.

“Doing such activities will help them to gain more happiness,” the venerable monk explained.

‘BounHorKhaopadapdin’ or ‘HorKhaopadapdin’ is one of the Lao traditional festivals which has continued to be embraced throughout the ages.

This festival is marked annually on the 15th day of the waning moon in the ninth month of the lunar calendar, and usually falls between the beginning and middle of September.

A few days before the festival people have assembled the materials to make their food packets and prepared other offerings to present to the monks to earn merit for their deceased relatives.

They made food packets using banana leaves or plastic putting in rice, fruit, other food as well as some flowers, candle and incense.

Meanwhile, some people make food packets for sale and are able to earn income for the family along with merit for their ancestors.

Source: Vientiane Times