Marriage and traditional family life in Laos
Laos is the country where Buddhism is the main and widespread religion and therefore it enters all the parts of life in Lao family. People have a lifestyle and family life based on Buddhism and it seems it is everywhere here. It is not only that people spend holidays or special days in the temple as it is needed so or everyone goes and I will go, no, in Laos Buddhism is everywhere in everyday life – it is the style of life in this country. What else to say if every man has at least once in his life to have obedience in monastery for some period. If you were thinking of marriage with Lao woman you probably have to be Buddhist and live for a long time in Laos as they choose a partner for marriage very precisely and it is not a quick process at all.
But life with Lao wife and life in Laos in general may seem you a grace as it is very peaceful and tranquil. Great pros of living in Laos is that there almost no conflicts between people and this is also thanks to the main religion of the country. People in Laos are peaceful, generous and friendly. They know that you are foreigner and will not be angry at you if you don’t do something according to their tradition as they understand you are from different culture. People in Laos like to use jokes in everyday life and in general they have good positive aura. The highest impact of angriness on the face of Lao man is when he, actually, does not smile – isn’t it weird for us, Europeans?
Family, but not friends or some other people, is the most important part of society for Lao people. Special family of Lao people to the family could be easily determined through observing it. Families in Laos are usually not big and also traditional Lao family does not have many children. Members of Lao family are dad, mom, children (those who are already married live here as well), grandma and grandpa. Sometimes there could be other members of the family as well and in is normal in Laos.
Man in Laos is usually considered to be the head of the family, but it is not like he rules everything and all other members of the family have to listen to him all the time. There is no pressure and possession in Lao families and not only in urban areas of Laos, but even in the villages European system in relationships between man and woman is very widespread.
Unique thing that distinguishes Laos from other countries is that parents do not upbringing and teach their children on their own as usually other family members take part in this process. Children in Laos get special atmosphere of family love are and they are never punished as in Buddhism it is believed that punished child will never grow a human who could share love and happiness to the world, but is likely to transfer negative energies. But it is not that parents completely do not take part in education of their child – they still give him/her their love but educational issues lie on the shoulders of the close relatives who, indeed, do their job greatly and child rise with respect to the parents, family, society and traditions.
It is believed in Laos that marriage is already predetermined on the sky as well as the destiny and all the marriages are pre-conducted in heaven that is why parents never intrude when it is going about the choice of their son or daughter for the following marriage as it is believed happy souls should find themselves in this life as they were living together in previous life.
Marriage itself and the preparation to it is not an easy procedure in Laos. Groom’s parents have to bring some gift to bride’s parents – it could be money, some jewelry or other precious thing, however, this gift is not what is usually considered as the ransom in other cultures. When the wedding is in the past the newly created Lao family lives in the house of bride’s parents for some period of time until they will find their own house and usually, if they find, it is close to the house of groom’s parents. And it is not that this couple lives with bride’s parents for a long time – they have to solve the problem with housing as quick as possible and live separately. However, life is life and often they could afford separate housing after the children are born.
In Laos wife usually takes the surname of the husband, however, she could leave her own, but in any case children will have the last name of the father. There is interesting situation with the names in Laos which not only usually are taken and could be changed according to the occupation, but also there are no surnames in general and only recently the Government forced everyone to get a surname according to international practice but local Lao people still do not tend to use the last names.
As I have already told family takes prominent part in Laos and family ties are very strong here. Even when children after the marriage live in their separate house, they often visit families of both parents – bride’s and groom’s and spend holidays together. If to talk about divorce – it is very rare thing for Laos according to the fact that members of the couple are choosing themselves for a long time, without advises and parents’ persuasion and this mutual consent makes the future family very strong unity.
As in other countries where Buddhism is the main religion, touching the head of local residents in Laos means insulting. You can not even touch the head of a child.
If you are going to marry Laos girl and visit the house of you Lao girlfriend, remember certain rules. For example, it is not allowed to touch one’s head as here it is considered as insult. This also considers little children with whom you may be playing while visiting Lao family. Such forbid is common for all Buddhist countries.
Lao people do not very adhere to some rules in closing, although there is special rule for men and women according to religious issues and to be polite you better follow those rules as well at least when you are in Laos LOL. Such clothes as shorts, both for men and women are allowed only on the beach and at the hotel. Everything is much simple for urban residents of Laos who are much closer in style to European standards, but not when it is going about religious rules. Laotians take their shoes off when entering the house, so keep that in mind not only if you want to marry Lao girl, but even if you are just a guest in Laos as you should take your shoes of as well. Remember about the length of the pants or skirt when visiting public places and temples as it must cover the ankles.
Kissing, giving a hug or touching your girlfriend in public places as well as showing of your feelings in the public is not allowed in Laos according to Buddhist traditions and it is considered that the expression of feelings between a man and a woman is only acceptable when they are alone. So, be wise and respect the religious and other traditions of people while you are in beautiful country of Laos.