Pii Mai (Lao New Year)
Lao New Year is celebrated at approximately the same time every year. On the first day of the celebrations, statues and images of Buddha are taken out of temples for a ritual cleansing. They are cleansed with scented water and placed on special alters in the temples for the duration of Pii Mai (pronounced Pee My).
The cleansing water that is used during the ceremony is carefully collected and taken home to be used to bless poor and sick family members. This act of cleaning and purification is performed before the start of the next year Pii Mai is a time for much celebration, complete with good deeds and prayers in anticipation of the New Year.
On the 14th April, Buddha images are taken out of the temples to be cleansed with scented water by devotees, and placed on special temporary altars within the temple grounds. Devotees gather the scented water falling off the images to take home and pour on friends and relatives as an act of cleansing and purification before entering the New Year. On the evening of the 15th, the images are returned to their proper shrines within the temples.
Boun Pi Mai is a time of much celebration, with good deeds and prayers in anticipation of the new year.