During Buddhist Lent, only two celebrations are observed.   They are both to remember the dead.   Haw khao padap din is celebrated on the 15 th day of the waning moon in the 9 th month (Lao calendar).

Haw means to wrap in small packs.   For celebrations people prepare a large pot of cooked sticky rice mixed with sweetened coconut milk.   Then they take a small handful of the mixture, wrap it around a lengthwise slice of cooking banana, kuaj tom, and wrap it in a banana leaf.   The pack, called khao tom , is then steamed until the banana is cooked.   Khao means rice and tom means boil, but, in fact, the pack is steamed.   The banana turns pinkish.   Sometimes mashed yellow beans or coconut mixed with sugar is wrapped in the rice instead.

Each household cooks a great number of khao tom which they give to relatives and friends.   Some are reserved for takbat , the morning offering to monks.   Khao tom can also be bought at the market.  

The boun is to show respect not only to one's own ancestors, but also to the dead with no relatives to remember them.   It is also the time to show respect to maethaulanii, the earth god.   Literally, padap means decorate and din means dirt (earth).   Early in the morning at 4 or 5am people place the khao tom , other food, betel for chewing and cigarettes, all wrapped in banana leaves or lotus leaves, in the temple grounds at the foot of trees, before that (stupas holding the ashes of the deceased relatives), or in the corner of the temple walls.   Before going to the temple, haw khao are put in the four corners outside one's house, the stairs, the spirit house, the rice storehouse, and on the gate.   The haw khao are put on the ground so that the spirits can reach them.   While it is still dark the spirits can come and get the offerings.

In the morning at 7 or 8 o'clock, people go to the temple to takbat , accept the Five Precepts and listen to the reading of the Buddhist writings in Pali.

In the evening, monks and lay persons attend a candlelit procession around the temple. People usually go to the temple in their neighborhood.

Haw khao salak celebrates the deceased.   It takes place 15 days after haw khao padap din , on the full moon of the 10 th month of the Lao calendar.  

For this celebration, offerings to the dead are passed to monks during the morning ceremony at the temple, just after takbat .   A basket is filled with food and daily amenities such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, toilet paper, cigarettes, etc. along with the names of the dead persons the family wishes to honor.

The monk or novice who receives the basket, then draws, salak , the names from the basket.   He calls to each dead person and transfers the things through prayers.   Afterwards, the items are shared among the monks and novices.   After their needs are met, the remaining items are stored for future use, contributed to a local school or hospital, or distributed to needy people.   It depends on the head monk's decision at each temple.

After the salak, the ceremony continues with the acceptance of the Five Precepts, and the chanting in Pali from Buddhist texts.  

In the evening at 7 or 8 o'clock, is vien thien, a candlelit procession.   First, the head monk at the temple chants from the Buddhist texts.   Then lay people walk in a clockwise direction three times around the sim .   It is important to keep your right side towards a sim or that .   Afterwards the candles, incense and flowers are placed near the side of the sim .

At haw khao padap din and/or haw khao salak, some families prepare a special tray or basket with bowls of the deceased's favorite foods.   This is called pha khao thip . The food is eaten by the monk receiving the tray who transmits the giver's merit to the honored dead.


pha bousah and pha khao thip are two ceremonies that can be done at any time of the year to honor the deceased.   Favorite foods of the deceased can be placed before his/her that kaduk and later transferred to a monk to eat, or in the latter ceremony the basket with the favorite foods is given to a monk who transmits the giver's merit to the honored dead.

salak to decide by picking, e.g. a name by chance

sim the central building at a wat reserved for use by monks

takbat to give offerings to the monks

that kaduk that means stupa; kaduk means bones. After a cremation, the bones and ashes are gathered and put in an urn, which is placed inside the stupa.   On the outside is frequently a photo of the deceased and the dates. That kaduk is usually shortened to that .

vien thien to walk three times in a clockwise direction around the sim or that with candles, incense, and flowers

wat    a Buddhist compound where monks live

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VIS & Bruce Knox 2005 - This site was most recently updated on June 8 , 2006 by Bruce Knox