While the villagers generally do not have anything monetary to offer as their thanks for all of the projects we do in order to make their lives just a little bit better and to give them hope, they do provide offerings and celebration through a religious ceremony referred to as Baci. It is customary and mandatory in their eyes to assure continued support for their culture and to pray for the good health of their sponsors and donors.
Mike and I enjoyed our first Baci 3 1/2 years ago in the remote village of Pha Yong, nestled in the majestic mountains north of Nong Khiaw along the river Ou. It had just turned dark and there were about 40 of us in a very small hut on stilts, with one window. As the ceremony started there was chanting and prayer. The first prayer required us to raise our hands above the ceremonial baci tray, palms down, as the elder chanted and demanded the release of all bad luck in the room, whilst brushing a cotton string over our hands. He then crumpled up the string and through it out the open window. You would not believe what happened then. It was like a Hollywood movie! Before the elder had a chance to continue the cermony, there was a huge blast of thunder, lightning, powerful rain and the wind picked up blowing all the dust from the rafters above us all over the place until someone closed the window. Even the villagers were shocked – can you imagine how Mike and I felt! Overwhelmed would be an understatement! The elder seemed surprised but then continued with the ceremony. At the end of the ceremony we were given the food and drink (Lao Lao) offerings of the village, followed by beer Lao, food for all and amazing singing. To learn more about this ceremony, please click on Karen’s article below. Enjoy!