Laos’s highest Buddhist order has decreed that all religious rituals organized for the purpose of pouring water over Buddha statues in temples are to be canceled for the public.
The Central Buddhist Fellowship Organization of the Lao PDR has issued a notice to all district and village level organizations and temples around the country to cease holding public religious events at temples where Buddhist devotees would normally congregate during the Lao New Year (Pi Mai) holiday. The move is in line with the recent Prime Minister’s Order intensifying countermeasures against the spread of COVID-19 in Laos.
The purpose of the notice is to stop people from gathering to perform the main religious activity during the Pi Mai period: pouring fragrant, lustral water over Buddha statues in temples, an act that signifies self-purification.
While the public has been prohibited from gathering at temples to do this, the central Buddhist order does allow monks and novices currently living within the temple grounds to engage in this sacred act on everyone’s behalf.
Laypersons may also voluntarily give cash donations to temples as a way to make merit. Joint Development Bank has come up with a convenient digital solution for this latter practice.