Baci ceremony is one of the special cultural activities in Luang Prabang, which is an integral part of Lao culture. Literally translates as “calling of the soul”, the ceremony is held on important occasions related to the human soul such as marriage, a success in any endeavor, an annual festival, birth of a child, recovery from sickness, seeking cure for any type of ill health and to welcome or honor visitors and important guests.
It follows an ancient belief in Laos that the human being is a union of 32 organs, and the kwans or souls watch over each of those organs. In some circumstances, these souls may leave the body to wander around and get lost in the universe, thus causing you to become weak and vulnerable to danger. Therefore, the baci ceremony calls the missing souls back to the body and secures them in place, so you can be yourself again.
Baci ceremony is performed by a senior person of the community, who has been a Buddhist monk at some stage. Buddhist deities, animist deities and spirits are invoked amidst the chants for the return of souls from wherever they are back to the body. This is said to be a fusion of the traditions of Hindu and Buddhist religious practices.
During the ceremony, a white thread of silk or cotton is tied on your right hand wrist for your wellbeing and good luck, and also around the wrists of all guests who assemble. Before the thread is tied, the hand is held chest high as a mark of respect. The white thread is symbolic of peace, harmony, purity, good fortune, good health and human warmth.
You should wear the thread for a minimum of three days, then it should be untied not cut. In recent times, the thread in yellow, red and black colors are also used representing particular occasion; red symbolizing bravery, yellow representing faith and black sharing a person’s loss or grief.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a feast of food is offered to all guests, with bowls of rice wine. This interesting ceremony has become a national custom of Laos, and Incense Travel can arrange a private ceremony while you are in Luang Prabang to enhance your Lao experience.