Lao Culture- A Divorce Celebration.
We, the volunteers at Ban Xai were invited to Yang’s sisters divorce celebration not knowing what to expect.
The men and women are separated as the women prepare the meal and the men gather as the celebrant waves a handful of cotton threads over the woman and her child. Then everyone comes forward and ties the cotton threads to her wrist and presents her with gifts of food and money.
The cotton threads are then tied to all the relatives and guests including us. It has something to do with getting rid of bad spirits associated with a bad marriage.
The woman then served the food, BBQ whole fish cooked on a BBQ made from a cluster bomb casing, fresh green vegetables, boiled and sticky rice and a broth of unknown origin. All very palatable except the broth.
While the food was being served small glasses of Beerlao were passed around and speeches made followed by skulling the warm Beerlao. Not something seasoned Aussie beer drinkers are use to, we thought it was only one off but then discovered the glass just keeps going around the table. We got cunning second and subsequent times by putting a block of ice in the glass and making a short speech [ old favorites like “up the old red rooster and more piss”] while the ice took effect.
The party and rituals went on for an hour or more before we checked with Yang to make sure it was appropriate to depart. All up a very interesting and enjoyable afternoon witnessing a different culture.