Additional reporting by Chono Lapuekou
Hours after the conclusion of this year’s That Luang Festival, Vientiane authorities reported a series of security challenges that they faced during the three-day celebrations – 23 to 27 November.
Among the incidents, six bags, three baht gold, five jewels, and five phones were stolen, resulting in a total estimated damage of around USD 4,923.
Also, on the first day of the festival, 23 November, authorities seized two unauthorized drones and detained five individuals following a brawl at 10:30 pm on the festival grounds. The detained individuals were temporarily held at the Vientiane Capital Provincial Police Office before being released a few hours later.
Throughout the festival, incidents of theft involving the use of knives were also reported on multiple occasions. In one instance, a 58-year-old woman from Phonkham village, Xaythany district, had her bag forcibly opened, resulting in a loss of LAK 700,000 and USD 220, a bracelet, a gold necklace, and four bank account books.
In a comparable case, a 42-year-old woman from Vientiane Province discovered that her bag had been tampered with as she approached the festival council area. The criminals made off with LAK 3.6 million (around USD 175), a phone, and a credit card.
On the final day of the festival, 27 November, four incidents occurred during the candlelight festivities, including three bag thefts.
Instances of teenagers brawling and the introduction of paper bullets into the festival prompted officials to issue warnings and proceed with arrests. Relatives were urged to collect those who had been detained.
The festival, a significant cultural and religious event, drew worshippers and visitors from across the country. Despite the security challenges, the authorities were vigilant in addressing emergency situations, highlighting the need for continued efforts to ensure the safety and enjoyment of future festivals.