Xayaboury celebrates Elephant Festival

Elephant_Festival_2014

Xayaboury: Lao President Mr Choummaly Sayasone attended the official opening of the elephant festival in Xayaboury provincial capital yesterday, witnessing a spectacular opening ceremony and the grand procession of 65 elephants.

This is the 8th year that the elephant festival has been organised in Xayaboury province, aiming to pay tribute to the Lao national symbol in a country which is also known as The Land of a Million Elephants.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Deputy Governor of Xayaboury province Mr Yanyong Sypaseuth said the festival is one of the biggest events of the year in Xayaboury, along with the boat racing festival.

“It has become an annual tourist attraction and the festival is helping to preserve the vital and traditional culture and heritage of Xayaboury province, which has strong links to the elephant since our province boasts 75 percent of the elephant population in La os,” he observed.

Mr Yanyong said that after the organising committee decided to hold the festival in Xayaboury district this year, the provincial authorities provided funding for infrastructure development to cater for the annual event and ensure it would run more smoothly instead of experiencing the difficulties of previous years when it was organised in Hongsa and Paklai districts of the province.

The festival was first organised in 2007 in Hongsa district with the objective to raise awareness of the need for action to protect Asian Elephants as part of the vital cultural and natural heritage of Laos.

Over the years, the festival became a key part of promoting tourism thereby benefitting local businesses such as travel services, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses.

The three-day festival that runs from February 17-19 features a grand procession of 65 elephants to signify the 65th anniversary of Lao People’s Army Day last month, and a parade by seven ethnic groups representing the diversity of culture and heritage in Xayaboury.

Apart from this there are other interesting activities going on including a big Baci ceremony, elephant buffet, elephant performances, elephants bathing, elephant of the year competition, elephant training demonstrations, a parachute demonstration, music and dance performances, a stage performance and a trade fair.

Before the official opening, there was a beauty contest featuring attractive young women representing each of the 11 districts in the province, as well as a spectacular display of thousands of lanterns released into the night sky.

The festival was sponsored by Lao Coca Cola Company, PT Company, Lao Brewery Company, Ministry of Energy and Mines, ETL, Hongsa Power Company, Outhoumphone Construction Company, Ch. Karnchang Company, Lao Holding State Enterprise.

Xayaboury province has always been famous for this magnificent animal. The province is also the site of two large-scale electricity generating projects that are currently under construction – a coal-fired plant in Hongsa district and a hydropower plant on the Mekong River in Xayaboury district.

Elephant Festival Xayaboury

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Vientiane Times, Vientiane Mai
18 February, 2014
Photo: Phoonsaab Thovongsa