A little paragraph in The Vientiane Times newspaper caught my eye – Chao Anouvong Statue Celebration to be held on Saturday 11 November 2017. Loving a good ceremony (or two!), I headed downtown to Chao Anouvong Park to see what was happening around Vientiane’s most famous statue.
The impressive statue of King Anouvong is the centre piece of Chao Anouvong park and is located on the Mekong River in central Vientiane. According to Tourism Laos, the statue was created in 2010 as part of Vientiane’s 450th Anniversary in order to commemorate the King’s contribution to Vientiane during his reign. Chao Anouvong was the last monarch of the Kingdom of Vientiane and is greatly revered by all Lao people for his heroism in combating the Siamese invasion of Vientiane in 1826-1828. During this conflict, King Anouvong was unfortunately captured and forced to surrender and the Kingdom of Vientiane ceased to exist after this defeat.
The bronze statue itself is impressive in its size and it is visible for quite some distance with the King facing away from the city, looking over the Mekong towards Thailand. He is dressed in military regalia, holding a sword in his left hand and extending his right hand as if offering a greeting to the Thai people.
Chao Anouvong Statue looks imposingly over the Mekong River towards neighbouring Thailand
Surrounding the base of Chao Anouvong Statue are many ritualistic offerings of flowers, fruit, candles and incense. You will also see many horses and elephants of different sizes and these are placed here for the land guardians (spirits or “phi”) to use for transportation in the afterlife.
On this particular day, the Vientiane and Chanthabouly Districts invited everyone to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the Chao Anouvong statue by making merit. This involved traditional music, a blessing by monks chanting Buddhist versus and the chance for devotees to make merit. Following the ceremony, the Districts provided free food and drinks for worshippers to celebrate.
Young Lao girls preparing to perform traditional Lao music at the Chao Anouvong Statue Celebration
Senior Monks chant Buddhist pali versus to bless the statue and devotees
Holy statues wrapped in sacred white cloth and basi string receiving blessings from the Monks at the Chao Anouvong Statue Ceremony 2017
The festivities continue with the local government providing refreshments for worshippers