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Baci Ceremony (From The Archive)

Shortly after finishing the rattan workshop, I attended a traditional Lao baci, or well-wishing, ceremony for Roland Eve (shown above), the departing Country Director of the WWF Greater Mekong-Laos Programme. A lot of chanting and bowing and then white cotton strings are pulled out of the pha kwan, a lovely arrangement of flowers, fruits, food, banana leaves, and other offerings (whiskey) in the center of the room. The man shown below to the right of the pha kwan is the maw pawn, or village elder, who leads the ceremony and does all of the chanting.

The strings are then tied around the wrist of the honoree while offering blessings for long life, good fortune, and continual happiness. And this happens dozens and dozens of times and soon the honoree's wrist is covered with white string - and good blessings.

The guests also tie strings around the wrists of other guests and offer blessings once the honoree has been taken care of. I have three around my right wrist as I write this (thx, Thibault). [NOTE: The blessings, apparently, stay in effect for as long as you keep the string around your wrist. Good to know.]

[NOTE ADDED TO RE-POST: My left wrist sports a red blessing string that I got at Banteay Srei (see Banteay Srei) during my recent trip to Cambodia. The strings, on average, last about a year on my wrist, but I am happy to replace them as necessary. You never know...].

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