4th of July celebration is one of the biggest events in America.
Americans have been celebrating their independence for the past 233 years and
counting. In this land that is a melting pot for many different races from
around the globe, many refugees and immigrants alike share their contribution
as valued citizens of the United States of America by participating, voting and
sharing in many other duties to help build this great country.
influxes of Laotian refugees to this country started from mid 1970's. The
largest group resettled in California in the 80's, spreading out through the
state. Everywhere they resettled, refugees from Laos tried hard to assimilate
into the American society, while trying to maintain their own identity and
preserving their heritage and culture at the same time. The American
Independence Day is one of the special events that Laotian-Americans across the
country come out in force to celebrate, Laotian-style.
of the Laotian-American community of the Greater Washington Metropolitan area
gathered at Wat Lao Buddhavong or the Lao temple in Catlett, Virginia, for its annual
outdoor celebration during the weekend of July 4-5.
Southalavong Boutta, chair of the event, told VOA that "This is a very special
event of the year. Our objective is to gather families and friends to celebrate
July 4th, and at the same time pay respect to and honor our abbot, Phramaha
Achan Bounmy Kittithammavanno, who takes a leading role in teaching Buddhism. This
year is even more special because we are celebrating the 30th years
of Wat Lao Buddhavong. We have participation from various communities across the
United States and beyond, such as Canada and even from Laos."
of thousands of people mingled and walked across the temple ground which was
full of stalls selling food, clothing, arts and crafts, fresh vegetables and
plants, among other things. The air was filled with the aroma of barbecued
chicken and meat, and the sound of music by various artists, both local and
from out of state and Canada.
Lao booth was one among the many food, arts & crafts and clothing stalls on
the fairground. Jai Lao, a non-profit organization recently founded in
California, came to the East Coast for its first fund raising to raise money to
build schools for Lao children in remote, poor areas of Laos. Co-founder Soutkita
or La Reagan got up on the stage and shared her vision with the audiences, "Lao
people are very generous and have great hearts. You have successfully helped
build many Lao temples in America, and now it is time for Lao people to be a
part of Jai Lao, of this Lao helping Lao for the benefits of poor and needy
children in Laos."
Chanthavy Sekpangna, a representative from the Laotian-Canadian community, also
addressed the audiences, "I along with Mrs. Soutthila Southidara, are very
delighted and proud to bring you the Laotian-Canadian dance troupe of La Valle
and Northern part of Quebec."
concerts and cultural performances, there were also sports activities. Religious
ceremonies and rituals, of course, dominated the mornings of the two-day
Listen to our audio files for more details.