The beginning of this year started off well with the birth of the 3rd generation of the Li dynasty in Belgium: we were able to welcome my little Ba boo on January 4th 2014. My brother nicknamed himself Ba boon so you can see how I’ve come up with his son’s nickname.
With the beginning of a new generation, my parents obviously wanted to throw a gigantic garden party and so we planned a baci or a soukhouan which is a popular Laotian ceremony. According to the Lao tradition, the body is composed of 32 parts, each having a soul (Khouan). These souls tend to escape and can get lost in bad places and thus be the cause of certain diseases and other misfortunes. By having a baci, it is intended to attract beneficial influences on its receivers and in this case, bring luck to Ba boo and his parents.
The whole ceremony takes place around a phakhouan, a plateau decorated with sticks that are filled with threads of white cotton. Around the phakhouan are offerings (food) made by the organizers or guests. The food is intended for the souls (khouans) to be recalled and during the ceremony, the officiant (mophone) calls upon the gods for the khouans to join the body. Once the khouans are recalled, the officiant ties the wrists of the guests of honour with threads of white cotton while imploring the welfare of the owner of khouans.
When the master of ceremony finishes, the other guests can take two white cords from the phakhouan and attach it to the wrists of the guests of honour while whispering their best wishes. Each thread has a knot and I was told that each knot stands for a wish of the person who is tying it to the wrist of the guests of honour. So when you untie them to take it off (since you’re not supposed to cut it) it’s like opening each wish. These lucky charms should be worn for as long as possible but because of its inconvenience, most people only keep them for 3 days.
The party was a huge success: everyone had fun, everyone went back to the buffets plenty of times, there were 2 karaoke parties going on at the same time and the Belgian Red Devils won a game at the World Cup for us that evening.
But then, on July 1st 2014 our family had to say goodbye to my Ba boo. He decided to go back to the heavens and be our gardian angel from above. I’ve cried all the tears I had in me and there is no discription to the pain and the void I feel. This unfortunate event made me understand what that party meant. It meant we were able to share our family’s biggest joy with the rest of the world cause I may have nagged big time on how tired I was but holding that little munchkin once was enough for me to find strength to continue. I was able to give my all for my nephew and he will forever be my reminder to do the same with all of my loved ones.