Revered Buddhist temple draws devotees to Oudomxay

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If you’re visiting Oudomxay province in the northwest of Laos, be sure to go to Vat Pha Chao Singkham temple in La district and pray before its sacred Buddha image.
The temple is the main cultural icon of La district and houses the Pha Chao Singkham Buddha image, which is considered to be sacred.
The people of Oudomxay and other provinces and even from neighbouring countries, especially Thailand, come to pray and seek blessings at the temple every day.
Vat Phat Chao Singkham, whose full name is Vat Pha Chao Singkham Xayaram, is located on a hill in the centre of La district in the east of the province. The temple was established 2,000 years ago and has a long history. The Pha Chao Singkham Buddha image is believed to have been cast 100 years after the death of Lord Buddha in ancient India.

The Pha Chao Singkham Buddha image.

According to legend, the image was moved and housed in many cities, including Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya in Thailand, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Champassak and Vientiane in Laos.
La is one of the seven districts in Oudomxay and is located 28 km from the provincial capital Xay district. It is a beautiful area and most of the people here belong to the Khmu ethnic group, who have their own traditions and lifestyle. They also have their own dialect and accent.
Visitors to the district enjoy its stunning landscape and can witness the lifestyle of the Khmu people, who have retained their traditional way of life over many centuries.
The district has many attractions, but Vat Pha Chao Singkham is one of the most popular.
I visited the temple recently during a trip organised by the Tourism Marketing Department under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to discuss tourism development with local authorities.
The temple complex contains many colourful structures and Buddha images. The old buildings stand out for their striking architecture and artistic designs which are symbolic of the Khmu people. The temple is located on a hill and offers a stunning view over the nearby town.
At the entrance, there are stalls selling offerings, items used in worship, and religious objects. Visitors can buy these items to offer to the Buddha image or to take home. There are also stalls selling food and drink outside the temple.
Floating huts on the Nam Phak river at the edge of the hill, not far from the temple, enable visitors to sit and relax in the natural surroundings and watch the locals as they go about their daily activities
on the riverbank.
It’s also possible to order food and drinks from nearby restaurants. If you’re feeling adventurous you can swing on a zipline along the river, starting from Vat Pha Chao Singkham.
The district has a supervising committee to oversee the temple. A member of the committee, Mr Thongdy Ketphila, said the temple is very popular among Buddhists and other visitors.
“Many people visit this temple each day and most of them come to pray, make wishes or give offerings to the Buddha image,” Mr Thongdy said.
“People come here to ask for blessing because they believe the Pha Chao Singkham Buddha image is sacred and can make their wishes come true. They often wish to be healthy, wealthy, successful or happy.”
“Those who think they have received what they prayed for will come back to give offerings or whatever they promised to give. Visitors also like to immerse themselves in the beauty of the temple and its architecture, as well as drink in the local culture and lifestyle,” he added.
“Everyone entering the temple should dress modestly and conduct themselves politely. Women should wear a long skirt or sinh, which can be hired at the entrance.”

By Visith Teppalath
(Latest Update February 15, 2018)

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