All posts filed under: Laos

Dear Community: Our Statement Against Supremacy in America

Dear Colleagues and Community: The Southeast Asian Diaspora Project (SEAD) is disheartened and angered by the senseless acts of violence, hatred and bigotry that took the life of Heather Heyer, injured many activists, and uprooted Charlottesville and other communities across the nation. What is more troubling is our failure to address our complacency in being silent on issues like Southeast Asian deportations; the killings of unarmed Black people by police, and rampant hate crimes as a result of our country’s Islamophobia. History has proven to us that communities of color, refugees and those traditionally marginalized and oppressed by White supremacy will continue to be harmed and disenfranchised unless we speak up and take action as organizations and leaders that work directly with our affected communities. When damaging mentalities and manifestos of White supremacy are internalized in our society, our generation pays for it. As an organization founded by and for Southeast Asian diaspora empowerment, we know what discrimination and violence has done to dehumanize each other and hinder our collective progress. We find the rise of …

Dear Guru: What’s with the three-headed elephant symbol in Lao America?

This week’s burning cultural question comes in from Twitter: What’s the deal with the three-headed elephant symbol everywhere in Lao America?  Throughout Theravada Buddhist monarchies in Southeast Asia, the king was assumed to possess a high level of karma from previous existences in order to be born into such a high position. It was also thought that the king derived his semi-divine might as he was an incarnation of the Hindu god Indra. According to this mythology, Indra rides on the mythical multi-headed white elephant (sometimes having three or five heads), named Erawan (Airavata in Sanskrit). This elephant became a symbol for the might of the kingdom, known as Lane Xang (a million elephants). It continued as a unified kingdom until the death of Souriyavongsa in 1695, with no legitimate heir. Warring internal factions battled over who would be the next successor and ultimately divided the kingdom into three parts: Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Champasak. Weakened, all three ultimately fell under Siamese control until French annexation in 1893, which reunified Laos. The symbol of the three-headed elephant continued …