Tikhy or Tikhee (Laos)
Name of sport (game)
Name in native language
Place of practice (continent, state, nation)
Tikhy is a traditional sport (similar to hockey) and is a distinctive part of an annual That Luang Festival, being an inseparable part of the celebration. The That Luang Festival is one of the most significant Buddhist festivals in Laos and takes place during lunar eclipse which occurs in October or November (depending of the cycle of lunar calendar). It is a joyous event, which is not only attended by town residents but also numerous tourists who visit Vientiane at that time.
Pha That Luang or gold-covered Buddhist Stupa is a national symbol as well as the most important religious monument in Laos which also serves a purpose of holding the most important Festival in Vientiane Boun That Luang.
Pha Than Luang
The first event during the festival is called a "Wax Castle" procession surrounded by colourful candles, which takes place in Wat Si Muang. In the morning of the third day of the festival, people gather in the gold-covered Stupa before sunrise, in order to secure space in the monastery, where they prepare to offer an offering and a prayer. Thousands of people gather to pay respects near That Luang. A lot of participants wear their best clothes as well as various Lao outfits characteristic of ethnic groups. Both men and women wear their traditional clothes called sarong for men and sinh for women. During the festival people dance, play traditional music and sing traditional songs while gathering near the Stupa. At 7 am starts an Alms Giving Ceremony "taak Baat", when monks collect the offering from the praying people. After "taak Baat", the believers come into the Stupa in order to pray while lighting candles and incenses.
The festival offers an occasion for many Laotians to return to their home country and visit their families to spend time together during the traditional picnic. At that time a traditional game called Tikhy takes place. Some people derive the sport from history or even a legend telling about the confrontation between the native people with the influx of administrative power symbolizing a new royal and religious order.
Some people say that in the past horse races were being organized during the festival. The festival ends together with the full moon, when the participants gather aroung the Pha That Luang for the last time, surrounded by the procession candles, holding armfuls of flowers, incenses and candles. The end of the festival is very often celebrated with fireworks.
Tikhi in 1900. Reproduced from Alfred Raquez, Pages laotiennes: Le- Haut-Laos, Le Moyen-Laos, Le Bas-Laos (Hanoi: F.H. Schneider, 1902)
Traditional game of "tikhy" or "tikhee" is played between a team consisted of festival participants (local people) and a team consisted of civil servants, which in the past were dressed in red. The game starts with a procession, before the game starts, master of ceremonies leads the local people, holding a magbeng, to bring the ball (Louk khee) from the Town Hall where it is being stored. The modern ball is made of bamboo roots and has a spherical shape and golden colour. After that, the whole procession gather near That Luang Stupa and circle it three times. Then they bring the ball to the pitch while everyone gathers to watch the match. This is a variation of Lao hockey, in which the participants use a bamboo sticks to direct the ball into the opposite goal. It requires a certain set of skills, as the bamboo sticks are not in a perfect shape and the ball is not perfectly round and smooth. Each team consists of 50 members, half of which plays in the first part while the other halt plays in the second part. Each of them lasts 25 minutes.
Winning the game means that the people will not suffer from hunger, while luck and prosperity will be with them for the whole year. The game is being held in a rather positive spirit in order to enhance the relation between local people and civil servants. The participants are cheered on by the crowd, which does not strain from dances and singing.
The sport is being practised.