Take That Luang and party in Laos

24th May 2013

Laos tourism leaders are promising fireworks at this year's That Luang religious festival … literally.

A huge, spectacular pyrotechnics display marks the end of the three-day jamboree - one of the main festivals and events in the south-east Asian country.

The party is held in and around That Luang Stupa, a gold-coloured stupa (a dome-shaped Buddhist shrine), the national symbol of Laos, in Vientiane.

A week before the festival, a huge international trade fair features goods and exhibitions from around the globe.

Holidaymakers on November city breaks here will see the festival begin with a wax castle procession at Vat Simuong and end with a procession around the stupa, Laos' most treasured monument.

Thousands of monks and tens of thousands of pilgrims come from all over Laos and even from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to enjoy the festival.

Pilgrims gather before the dawn at That Luang to listen to prayers and sermons chanted by hundreds of monks. Then comes the wax castle procession.

The next day, a larger procession brings more wax castles through the That Luang cloister's Eastern Gate.

The castles are carried three times around the Grand Stupa and offered to the shrine.

Thousands of devotees gather in and around the cloister at 5am on the festival's last day for the Takbat, the morning offering to the monks.

Families then gather to eat Khao Poun, the national rice noodle soup and Tom Kai, chicken soup.

Then comes a ritual polo-like game of Teekhee before the firework festivities begin.

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