Thousands give alms at That Luang Stupa fundraiser

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - A huge gathering of Vientiane residents gave alms to over one thousand monks at That Luang esplanade on Saturday morning to raise additional funds for the renovation of the Stupa.

The Taak baat event was attended by Vice Vientiane Mayor, Mr Sihoun Sitthileuxay, who also struck a gong to start the ritual. He was joined by other officials and the general public.

Devotees from neighbouring countries especially Thailand took part in the event and gave alms while other international visitors enjoyed witnessing the activities.

This was the third time the annual event has been organised which also included a Pha Pa Samakkhee progression with a Thai Buddhist group led by Mr Oudom. The Thai Buddhist group handed over around 500,000 baht to Deputy Director General of Vientiane Department of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Phonechan Phengphouvan representing the That Luang renovation committee. The group also presented an additional 500,000 baht to Vat That Luang Neau temple for construction of a new reception building.

Ms Silaphet Thavixay, a resident of Phonesavang village, Chanthabouly district told Vientiane Times she was very happy to take part in almsgiving because it was a meaningful activity for her and all participants.

“This is my first time to join the event. It’s a very special time to make merit,” she said.

“Everyone looks happy because they can practice their Buddhist faith. Almsgiving has been a fine tradition for Lao people since ancient times. It is rare to have this event and a good way to continue our fine traditions and culture,” she added.

One of the ceremony organisers and That Luang renovation committee member, Mr Phouvieng Phothisane said it was very important to hold the event and raise funds for further restoration. He noted that while essential renovations inside the wall were complete including the stupa structure funds were still needed for the icon’s surrounds.

He urged the public particularly merit makers to continue to take part in fundraising ceremonies.

Pha That Luang Stupa is a sacred golden stupa that is also the Lao national symbol. The stupa is located in That Luang village, Xaysettha district, not so far from city centre.

This stupa was originally built in the 3rd Century, at the same time as the establishment of Meuang Vientiane. The stupa was built to house the bones belonging to Lord Buddha.

It has become a centrepiece of Buddhists in Laos and around the world.

The 4th Phra That Luang Renovation Project was launched in 2008 during celebrations to mark the 450th anniversary of Vientiane as the capital city.

Since then many parts of the project have completed but more renovation is still required.

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