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Religious ceremony marks railway inauguration


A traditional ritual to mark the grand opening of the Laos-China railway, which takes place this afternoon, was organised on December 2 at the newly-built train station in Vientiane.

The highlight of the event was a Paritta (auspicious) chant by 19 monks, led by the Acting President of the Buddhist Fellowship Organisation of the Lao PDR, the Most Venerable Maha Bounma Simmavong.

The words of the chant call for misfortune to be dispelled and for good luck, success and happiness to be bestowed on the operation of the station, trains and operators, as well as all those attending the ceremony.

The ritual was one of many special activities organised as part of the grand opening of the Laos-China railway.

The presence of monks and the chosen time of the ceremony were regarded as auspicious for the start of railway operations.

The ceremony is thought to ensure smooth running of the railway for both operators and customers, along with wealth and success in all associated endeavours.

Attending the event were Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh, senior officials, members of various bodies associated with the railway, and Buddhists.

Before the start of the chanting, the Prime Minister lit two large candles in homage to the Buddhist Triple Gem and struck a huge gong nine times to mark the beginning of the ceremony. This was followed by prayers and pledges to follow the five Buddhist precepts.

Vice President of the Lao Buddhist Fellowship Organisation, the Most Venerable Maha Veth Masenay, preached a sermon and then congratulated the committee responsible for organising the ritual, saying it was the correct move to ensure the auspicious operation of the railway.

He also represented the nationwide monk body in congratulating the government on its successful role in the construction of the railway.

“The railway was the biggest gift the government has given to the Lao people, which was particularly noteworthy on National Day”, he said. He expressed confidence that the railway would deliver many benefits both to the nation and its citizens.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Prime Minister led officials in giving food and offerings to the monks. Participants received blessings from monks while two sprinkled holy water on the heads of officials to bring them protection.

Religious rituals of this nature are a part of the Lao way of life and have been practised since ancient times, being passed down from generation to generation.

People nationwide regularly organise such rituals and take part in auspicious ceremonies as part of celebrations and festivals, and consider them to be fine traditions that preserve cultural identity.

Published : December 05, 2021

By : Vientiane Times