experience southern laos
Participate in a traditional Baci Ceremony
“Let evil spirits leave and good spirits enter”
In Lao, animist beliefs are still held and part of their beliefs is that the human body is composed of 32 spirits or “khouan” that protect the different parts of the body and your soul. However, these spirits are volatile and can be tempted away from the body to be replaced by harmful spirits that can cause spiritual and physical ailments. A Baci Ceremony invites the good spirits back to the body and encourages them to stay. An altar of banana leaves is decorated with flowers and other offerings and a candle is placed on top. Strands of cotton are strung from the altar and the candle is lit as monks or a village elder intone mantras as the participants sit with the hands together in front of their hearts.
Once the mantras have been recited, the candle is blown out and the participants tie strands of cotton around each other’s wrists to keep the good spirits in the body.
These ceremonies are held during important events in life such as when moving to a new home, weddings or engagements, , to protect the newborn and the young mother at birth, after an accident or to cure a disease that persists, at a birthday, the opening of a business or before a trip. It is also customary to receive a bracelet or “phouk khaen” from a monk during a visit to the temple. The bracelet is kept around the wrist for at least three days.
Although Laos is almost entirely Buddhist today, animism or belief in the spirit world is still present and the Baci Ceremony reflects these beliefs. You will see many other offerings related to spirits such as offerings and prayers that are made at small spirit houses near the entrance to people’s homes.
Estimated time: 1h30