The water festival is held annually on the occasion of the Lao New Year Festival in mid April. It is considered an important festival of the Lao ethnic people, with numerous traditional rituals, including ancestor worshiping and praying for health and bumper crops. During the festival, people splash water to wash away the bad luck of the old year and wish for good luck for the new year, and to say farewell to the dry season and welcome rain for the new crops.
"People of Na Sang hamlet are happy and proud to have our water splashing festival recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage. The local residents flocked to a common ground to celebrate the recognition with music performances. We’re determined to promote our unique culture and pass it on to younger generations.", said Luong Sao May, lead sorcerer of the water splashing rituals in Na Sang 1 hamlet.
"Along with this recognition, more needs to be done to protect the authenticity and uniqueness of local rituals and other cultural practices. These are important matters that we must keep our eye on to protect and preserve our cultures in line with Party and State’s policies and guidelines.", said Pham Minh Chau, Head of the Cultural Division of Dien Bien district, Dien Bien province.
Dien Bien province has listed 18 heritages that need to be preserved and recognized as national intangible cultural heritages, including the ancestral worshiping rituals and the Cong ethnic group’s biggest annual holiday, Tết Hoa.
The provincial authorities have asked UNESCO to recognize the Thai ethnic group’s xoe dancing as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Dien Bien province has set a target of having listed and reviewed 100% of its local cultural heritages and having 50% of those heritages preserved and promoted properly by 2020.
"Much of our ethnic culture is disappearing. It takes a lot of time and effort to research cultural heritages. We are trying to complete surveys and basic research on the history of 19 ethnic groups in Dien Bien province by 2020.", said Dao Ngoc Luong, Deputy Director of the Dien Bien provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
The recent recognition of two more national cultural heritages in Dien Bien province reflects the tireless efforts of local authorities and the public to protect and promote their diverse and unique cultures.