Backpacker Video Diaries: A Traditional Good Luck Ceremony in Laos

After teaching English to local children in a small village outside Luang Prabang in Northern Laos, Courtney, Kaberly, Danielle and Jacqui are asked to take part in a traditional Laotion ceremony. A ‘Baci Ceremony’ such as this only occurs once a year and the girls were overwhelmed and honoured to be a part of such an incredible cultural experience. Watch the video of their special travel moment!  
A Video Commentary – By Danielle Walker On our second day, one of the most amazing experiences took place. From what we understood, the parents of the children were so thankful for the days that we spent teaching that they had a type of good luck ceremony for us. They then cut the chicken (which they had killed and cooked previously that day), and all four of us ate the meat. (We are all vegetarians so this was quite a feat!) The chant was followed by every person in the village putting white ties around our wrists. The ritual began with the village chief conducting the ceremony. We all picked up the wicker table that the flowers, rice, bracelets, and chicken were on and the chief said the chant for good luck.

The traditional thank you and good luck ceremony in Phov Mok VillageA traditional ‘Baci’ ceremony was held to thanks the girls for teaching and wish them good fortune and safe travels on their onward journey.

Getting the chicken "ready" for the ceremonyGetting the chicken “ready” for the ceremony

White bracelets tied around the wrist for good luckWhite bracelets were tied around the wrists for good luck

Through research later, we discover that what we had experienced was a traditional ‘Baci Ceremony,’ held in particular by Lao communities to protect people who are travelling. In Lao culture it is believed that the body contains spirits (khuan) which can sometimes leave the body and not return. If the spirits are lost the person may experience problems. The ‘Baci Ceremony’ is performed to summon the spirits back to the body and restore harmony. The ceremony is performed by a ‘Mor phon’, an elder who is sometimes a Buddhist Monk. People usually sit in a circle around a beautiful flower arrangement in the centre of the room. Foreigners are given a bowl of cooked chicken and rice as an offering and a blessing and they are often asked to drink a cup of Lao rice wine. This ritual is believed to ensure that they will always have enough to eat throughout their lives. Traditional Lao ceremonies frequently end with the important ritual of tying of white cotton threads around the wrists. As a knot is tied in the piece of string, the soul of the guest is firmly tied to their bodies to prevent future wandering. It was a beautiful, welcoming ceremony and we were so thankful to be included in their rituals and culture. It was without doubt the most touching moment of the trip. Danielle “Of course I cried because I was so overcome with emotion and happiness! Which was actually comical because Courtney had just explained that tears meant “sad,” so we then had to explain that there are happy tears as well!”

Read the story of the girls teaching in the classroom.

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