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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sikhottabong stupa gets facelift for festival

Visitors to the Sikhottabong Stupa Festival this year will be amazed at the new attractions on show from February 19-21 in Thakhek district, Khammuan province.

The Sikhottabong Stupa, where there will be a festival this week.

The district is busy preparing exhibits, including models of typical local housing, flower decorations and traditional clothing, and has improved road access.

“This year we are creating new activities to create public interest in the stupa and explain its history,” said the Chairman of the Sitkhottabong Festival Committee and chief of office of Thakhek district, Mr Phetsamay Phetlamphanh, last week.

“We are developing the stupa as a cultural park. We are also setting up a tourism information centre for visitors and will build a monument of Phaya Sikhottabong and models of the houses traditionally used by various ethnic groups. We are working on this project this year and the next,” Mr Phetsamay said.

Visitors to the festival are requested to abide by rules for entry to the stupa and the sim (the main sanctuary). The organisers are asking women to wear Lao skirts, or to rent one at the event if they are not already wearing one. Men are asked not to wear caps or earrings and should not be intoxicated.

The festival will also include an exhibition of handicrafts made in the nine districts of Khammuan province, as well as products manufactured in local villages, factories and companies.

There will also be football and petanque matches, as well as a drumming contest. Other activities will include a Phasatpheung procession, a taak baat (alms offering) and an evening candlelight procession.

Locals are busy with preparations and are ready to give visitors a warm welcome. They are delighted with the ‘new look' festival and are proud of the improvements made to the stupa's surroundings, making it a more attractive area.

More than 120 police and security officials will be on hand to give information and ensure visitors' safety around the clock.

Mr Phetsamay said “We want to keep the festival grounds clean, so we have arranged for people to sweep up the rubbis h every day. We'll encourage young people and students to pick up litter and try to teach youngsters that it's important to be aware of their environment and do something constructive towards solving problems in this area.”

“We hope to inspire interest and curiosity among children and young people in the history of Sikhottabong stupa; we also want them to focus on traditions rather than just the entertainment aspect of the festival.”

By Somsack Duangpanya in Khammuan province

(Latest Update February 19, 2008)

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