Long before the arrival of Buddhism in Laos, Animism was the main belief in the country. In a way, it still is. Yes, Buddhism is the country’s main religion, but many aspects of Animism is incorporated into the religion. This includes the baci ceremony.
So, what are the occasions that merit a baci ceremony? If a couple is getting married, then a baci will be performed, wishing them good luck and a prosperous marriage. Births are also celebrated. Boys entering monkhood, seen as a sign of maturation and a rite of passage, will also deserve a baci ceremony. The sick will also receive bacis to help speed up the recovery process. In fact, even your visit to Laos will call for a baci, to wish you all the best on your travels.
What does the baci do? Lao Animism believes in a concept called kwan, which are vital forces that give harmony and balance to our body. It is an ancient belief in the country that human beings consist of 32 organs and that one kwan is assigned to protect one organ. When one of the kwans leave the body, the person becomes ill. So, the baci ceremony is meant to re-call the kwan back into the body. And yes, kwans can be called for good luck as well, because the more in your body the merrier.
Central to the ceremony is a pha kwan, a silver bowl containing a banana-made cone, some flowers and white silk threads. Around the base is the offering for the kwan which usually includes eggs, fruits, sweets and other edible items. Also essential to the ceremony is the elder conducting the ceremony. He’ll lead the baci with chants and proceeds to take a white silk thread and tying it to your wrist. Keep wearing it. The thread must be left on the wrist for three days. And after the elapsed days, do not cut it off! Instead, untie it out of your wrist.
Yes, you too can be a part of the baci ceremony. In fact, we can arrange one for you, to wish you a safe and successful journey. You can contact us if you would like to be a part of this special ceremony in any of our Laos tours.
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