Boun Ok Phansa, festival of Light, Don Som Fi Temple, Laos. The festival of light celebrates the end of the rainy season across Laos. On Don Som Fi Island, locals provide food and make other donations to the monks of the local Buddhist Temple. The event begins in the early morning. People chant and pray and there are speeches.
I spent the night with a local family before going to the local temple. The night before I had dinner with the family and was then asked to join them in the local pub. How could I have said no to this very generous offer.
We woke up at five in the morning to prepare for the festival. It involved a 35-minute motorbike journey on some bumpy roads. We finally arrived at the island’s largest temple. The sun had just risen and all the locals were getting ready for the celebrations. I was the only European visitor – a true privilege.
I was taking photos outside the temple when a local woman waved me in to the temple. This was a great honour, because men are usually not allowed in at this early stage of the celebrations. But because I was accompanying one of the island’s families, I was able to take photographs of the women getting ready for the festival. After the ceremony, the food is given to the monks. Whatever is left is distributed to the local families.