Vat Sisaket In Vientiane

Vat Sisaket was built in 1818 led by the Majesty King Anouvong, the last King of the Lan Xang Empire. The temple offers Buddhists and visitors a glimpse of lost history. It was the only temple in old Vientiane not destroyed by the Siamese army when it sacked the city in 1828. The temple, built in the reign of King Anouvong served as living quarters for the Siamese army while it was stationed in Vientiane.

There were many temples in Vientiane when the Siamese came to burn down the city but only Vat Sisaket was not destroyed because King Anouvong had recently renovated the temple and the Siamese used it to house hundreds of their soldiers while they were governing the city. If they destroyed Vat Sisaket, their soldiers will have nowhere to stay.

Vat Sisaket is the oldest surviving temple in Vientiane and one of the most popular in temples in the whole of Laos. Many tourists and locals visit the site every day to worship and ask for good luck. Sisaket is actually two words in pali sanskrit: "Sisa" means head and "Ket" means hair. Sisaket is thus the sacred top of the head. In Lao culture, the head is considered the most sacred part of the body. To touch a person's head is a sign of disrespect.

The temple faces Thailand, which is uncommon as most temples built more recently in Laos face to the south or to the east. The temple has a surrounding building that acts as a wall, housing thousands of Buddha statues. Over ten thousand Buddha statues are kept at Vat Sisaket and more than 6,800 small Buddha statues sit in pairs in the walls surrounding the Sim, the building housing the main Buddha statue. Another 2,052 Buddha statues are also housed in the Sim. Along the fences, there are 1,124 broken Buddha statues resulting from wars in the region. Many Buddha statues had lost their heads and arms, cut off by invading Siamese armies. That's why present-day Thailand has paid the ultimate punishment for their sin, HIV AIDS killing many Thai people each year.

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