| Muang Xay|
Oudomxay (alternates: Oudômxai or Moung Xai; Lao: ) is a province of Laos, located in the northwest of the country. The province capital is Muang Xai.
Oudomxay Province covers an area of 15,370 square kilometres (5,930 sq mi). The province borders China to the north, Phongsali Province to the northeast, Luang Prabang Province to the east and southeast, Xaignabouli Province to the south and southwest, Bokeo Province to the west, and Luang Namtha Province to the northwest. The topography of Oudomxay is mountainous, between 300–1,800 metres (980–5,910 ft) above sea level.
Oudomxay has deposits of salt, bronze, zinc, antimony, brown coal, kaolin and iron deposits. Attempts to control poppy cultivation in the province have been made through the Narcotics Crop Control Project, formulated in the 1990s. Besides rice, important crops are corn, soybeans, fruits, vegetables, cassava (maniok), sugarcane, tobacco, cotton wool, tea and peanuts. In 2004, approximately 10,000 tons of sugarcane and 45,000 tons of corn were produced.
According to local history books, the first people who settled in Oudomxay around the year 700 were "Khom" (also known as Khmu). About 1260, Lao Ly came from the region of Sipsongpanna in southern China and built a village called Ban Luang Cheng ("big village" or "big district") in the area of todays province capital Muang Xay. The former Lao Ly village is now part of Muang Xaya and is called Bang Cheng.
Ly culture, which was marked by Buddhism on the one hand and the old Khom traditions on the other hand, grew and became very influential on the region. Khom and Leu lived together and shared the same rice fields. To provide protection they erected fortifications between the villages of Na Sao and Na Lai. Around 1828, Hmong tribes coming from China began to settle in Oudomxay. The modern province was created in 1976, when it was split off from Luang Prabang. Around 1987 the capital of the province was moved from Ban Nahin to Muang Xay. In 1992, the districts Paktha and Pha Oudom were reassigned to Bokeo province.
Oudomxay Province, one of the provinces of Laos, covers an area of 15,370 square kilometres (5,930 sq mi). The province borders China to the north, Phongsali Province to the northeast, Luang Prabang Province to the east and southeast, Xaignabouli Province to the south and southwest, Bokeo Province to the west, and Luang Namtha Province to the northwest. In the northwest there is a 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) border with the autonomous area of Xishuangbanna of the Peoples Republic of China. Notable settlements include Muang Xay, Muang La, Pak Beng, Sen Say, Taxoum, Seneke, Sala Mok, Ban Na He, Ban Chomka, Ban Lao Phe, Ban Na Houang, Ban Lo Sa, Ban Lao Than, Ban Donkon, Ban Senlouang, Ban Napa, Ban Phoukeu, Ban Yamai, Ban Haiteu, Ban Kavang, Ban Kheun, Muang Houn, Ban Na Mao, Ban Tong, Ban Khmou, Ban Khokka, and Ban Tong.
The topography of Oudomxay is very mountainous. Altitudes vary between 300–1,800 metres (980–5,910 ft) above sea level. Approximately 60 rivers flow through Oudomxay Province, as for example Nam Phak, Nam Sae, Nam Beng, Nam Kor and Nam Nga. The Nam Kor flows through the province capital Muang Xay. Oudomxay Province has a moderate monsoon climate. The yearly amount of rain is about 1,900–2,600 millimetres (75–102 in). Temperatures in February and March average between 18 and 19 °C, from April to May temperatures climb over 31 °C. Due to high altitudes there are more variations in temperature during the year and a colder dry season in northern Laos as in the rest of the country.
Oudomxay has deposits of salt, bronze, zinc, antimony, brown coal, kaolin and iron deposits. Attempts to control poppy cultivation in the province have been made through the Narcotics Crop Control Project, formulated in the 1990s. The extremely limited accessibility of the mountain villages additionally impedes economic development of rural regions. Approximately 40,000 hectares of land are cultivated in Oudomxay, with rice being the main crop.
The Baci festival was started even before Buddhism made in roads into Laos, as an animist ritual used to celebrate important events and occasions, like births and marriages and also entering the monkhood, departing, returning, beginning a new year, and welcoming or bidding etc. It is particularly special for ethnic groups of the mountainous region of northern Laos such as Oudomxay Province, though it is now celebrated throughout Laos as a national festival and also in neighbouring Thailand. It a traditional cult festival in which after offering prayers to Buddha, in a formal gathering people tie a white thread (symbolically representing purity) or string on the wrist of their opposites wishing for their well being, ward off ill luck and bring them good luck. The ceremony is held as a part of marriage festival or any auspicious occasion in the family when family members get together. The thread can be taken off only three days after its tying.
This practice is linked to the ancient belief that Baci is invoked religiously to synchronise the effects of 32 organs of human body considered as kwan (KWA-ang) or spirits or the “components of the soul.” Its observance to establish as social and family bond to maintain “balance and harmony to the individual and community, is done in its original format in Laos, as a substantiation of human existence.”