Goshen temple hosts Laotian New Year celebration

May 12—GOSHEN — Lao culture and tradition were celebrated at an event late afternoon and early evening Saturday.

Lay Sourivong is the president of the Goshen Lao Temple, located on U.S. 20, just northwest of Goshen.

"We are celebrating our new year," he said as he hurried to coordinate the event, which took place on the temple grounds.

Officially, the Lao New Year was in April, making this the year 2,567 by the Lao Calendar.

"Last week it was cold, so we did it this week," Sourivong said.

The event featured live music, as well as vendors who sold food, jewelry, paintings, dresses and other items.

Vee Inthivong was also a coordinator of the festival. He said that the Lao community in Michiana represents between 150 and 200 families.

"It gets rid of bad luck and welcomes renewal for the community," he said of the new year celebration in Lao culture.

The event also featured a parade, from which seven young women, in their teens, competed to be New Year Queen, through a drawing, as Sourivong described it. The winner was Sabina Khanhphane, 16, a sophomore at Northrop High School in Fort Wayne.

According to the Lao Advancement Association of America, the Lao people have celebrated Lao New Year for thousands of years.

"This festive occasion is held each year from April 13 to 15," according to a document on their website. "In Laos, this is the hottest month of the year and the rainy season is just around the corner. It is the time when people ask for and give each other forgiveness and receive wishes. Lao new years is considered a national holiday in Laos. Government offices are closed for three days to observe the Lao New Year."

Jessica Shepperson, South Bend, has a friend who is a member of the temple and sold jewelry at the celebration.

"This is my first year here, but I plan to be back," she said. "The food is good."

To learn more about the temple, visit "Goshen Wat Lao Buddhadharm" on Facebook.