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  1. #1
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    Homage-Paying Fair
    Phra That Phanom, Nakhon Phanom

    People from all over Isaan, and neighboring Laos, flock to Phra That Phanom. The Mekong riverside Buddhist structure contains a relic of the Lord Buddha and is the most revered shrine in I-San. The 7-day fair is notable for religious merit-making and a great variety of folk entertainment.

    benchama

    February/March

    Magha Puja in That Phanom
    Where: Ngan Phra That Phanom

    During the holiday between sowing and harvesting the rice, thousands flock to the famous Ngan Phra That Phanom temple to celebrate the Buddhist festival of Magha Puja.
    The wat (temple) faces both the Mekong river and the rising sun, so the best approach to it is by water. It is thought to have been founded in 535 BC, eight years after the Buddha's death, when five local princes built a simple rick chedi (temple) to house bits of the Buddha's breastbone.

    The temple rests on a gleaming white marble platform, where pilgrims leave their offerings under an umbrella made of 16kg of gold. This arch is inlaid with precious gems and gold rings embedded in each tier. Around this magnificent edifice music, delicious food and drink stalls, theatre performances and traditional Isaan-style dancing take place.

    Pilgrims and lay people gather to give prayers to the Buddha and to meditate, with the culmination of the festival on the full moon evening when monks hold a candlelit procession around the temple. We have given you the date of the full moon alone, but be aware that celebrations begin a few days before, and may last a few days beyond.

    One of the special things about this particular temple festival is that Lao people from the other side of the Mekong are allowed to come over in their boats (under the beady eyes of the customs and immigration officials) to pay homage to what was once their shared inheritance with the Thais.

    Magha Puja in That Phanom
    When: Mar 2009 (annual)
    Where:Ngan Phra That Phanom
    During the holiday between sowing and harvesting the rice, thousands flock to the famous Ngan Phra That Phanom temple to celebrate the Buddhist festival of Magha Puja.
    The wat (temple) faces both the Mekong river and the rising sun, so the best approach to it is by water. It is thought to have been founded in 535 BC, eight years after the Buddha's death, when five local princes built a simple rick chedi (temple) to house bits of the Buddha's breastbone.

    The temple rests on a gleaming white marble platform, where pilgrims leave their offerings under an umbrella made of 16kg of gold. This arch is inlaid with precious gems and gold rings embedded in each tier. Around this magnificent edifice music, delicious food and drink stalls, theatre performances and traditional Isaan-style dancing take place.

    Pilgrims and lay people gather to give prayers to the Buddha and to meditate, with the culmination of the festival on the full moon evening when monks hold a candlelit procession around the temple. We have given you the date of the full moon alone, but be aware that celebrations begin a few days before, and may last a few days beyond.

    One of the special things about this particular temple festival is that Lao people from the other side of the Mekong are allowed to come over in their boats (under the beady eyes of the customs and immigration officials) to pay homage to what was once their shared inheritance with the Thais. travelcuts.com
    The Heart determines what is Possible by the Mind

  2. #2
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    Lam Duan Flower Festival
    Si Sa Ket

    The 3-day festival celebrates the lam duan flower with a traditional culture performance, light & sound presentations, regional culinary and handicraft displays, and native bazaars.

    benchama

    March
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  3. #3
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    Thao Suranari Fair
    Nakhon Ratchasima

    This festival celebrates the local heroine who rallied fellow citizens during the 1800s against foreign invaders. 10-day festivities feature fireworks displays, beauty contests, colorful processions, cultural performances and exhibitions.

    benchama

    March - April
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  4. #4
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    Dok Khun-Siang Khaen Festival
    Khon Kaen

    This festival coincides with Songkran, April 13 - 15, the traditional Thai New Year, and features religious merit-making, such as offering alms to Buddhist monks and paying homage to revered Buddha images, floral float processions, beauty contests, and traditional folk entertainment.

    benchama

    Festival dates are 8-15 April 2008

    As part of the Dok Khun Siang Khaen Songkran Festival, celebrating New Year, the locals of Khon Kaen pay homage to revered Buddha images and offer food to monks. Dok Khun flowers decorate trees in beautiful strings of yellow.
    Other highlights include water splashing in the so-called Sticky Rice Road (Thanon Khao Niao) and a competition for the best local cuisine, held in the city of Khon Kaen. There is also a beauty pageant and processions of decorated ox carts.
    The Heart determines what is Possible by the Mind

  5. #5
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    Phanom Rung Fair
    Buri Ram

    The hilltop Prasat Hin Phanom Rung is the site of a 3-day fair which features cultural performances and various exhibitions.

    Benchama

    April 3, 2008 @ 06:02:32 the sun will rise and pass directly through the 15 doors that stretch the length of the Phanom Rung Temple Complex.

    The majestic ruins of the Phanom Rung Temple form the centrepiece of this annual spring festival. Daytime processions snake their way up the hill to honour the sacred linga stored there. After dusk, there is a fabulous sound and light performance. The ruins are hugely atmospheric at this time and if you are in Thailand, it should not be missed.
    The awesome 11th-century Khmer ruins have been restored after 17 years of painstaking work and are the best preserved Khmer monuments in Thailand. The central prang contains a sacred Shiva linga; the object of Khmer religious veneration and still a holy site for Hindus all over South-East Asia.


    TAT:
    A splash of sunlight penetrating an ancient temple cloister signals a distinctive celebration at Prasat Phanom Rung.

    Knowing the exact moment to witness a spectacular sunrise through the doorway of an ancient Hindu temple requires a detailed calculation.
    The most auspicious day is 3 April; the time, 0602.32 at sunrise, as the amber sun is perfectly aligned in the centre of the main doorway to a temple standing on a former volcanic mountain in northeast Thailand.

    Actually, the sun rays pass straight through 15 perfectly aligned doorways of Prasat Phanom Rung, a revered and ancient Hindu monastery, just four times a year -– two sets of sunrises, in April and September, and two sets of sunsets, in March and October.
    These spectacular solar-related events, that also bear religious significance in the Hindu faithful, span just three days –- 2, 3 and 4 April. The second day is considered the most auspicious as the sun is visible dead centre of the outer doorway of this Khmer Hindu temple. Sun rays cast light through 15 aligned doorways that span 75 metres of the temple’s inner courtyard illuminating a revered lingam deep in the main sanctuary. On the other two days, the sun passes one of the corners of these doorways.

    Located about 120 km east of Nakhon Ratchasima, the gateway to the northeast region, Prasat Phanom Rung presents a picturesque setting high above the surrounding countryside. A series of steps lead to this ancient monument that stands on the peak of an extinct volcano offering panoramic views of rice fields and hazy mountains on the border with Cambodia.

    While photographers will not want to miss the opportunity to capture the 3 April sunrise perfectly aligned within the lintels of the doorways, most visitors will settle for the evening festivals and a colourful light and sound show organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand performing nightly from 2 to 4 April.

    Officially known as the “Ascent of the Mountain Annual Festival” or the “Festival Of The Thousand Year Miracle of the Phanom Rung Grand Shrine” the celebrations start with the religious significance of the sunrises, but continue with community festivities on each of the three days, well into the night.

    The 80-minute light and sound show, that start at 20:00, highlights the history of Prasat Phanom Rung and explains the significance of the sunrise and its alignment with the temple’s courtyard doors.
    The show is described as an “extravagant outdoor Son et Lumiere performances led by a large cast of actors, dancers and acrobats.”
    This evening spectacular, held within the temple complex, compliments the daytime activities that start with the sunrise ceremonies and are followed by colourful festivities throughout the day. In the afternoon there is almost a carnival spirit as visitors enjoy the local food specialities sold at stalls, the folk music and dances as well as handicraft displays. Many visitors are tempted to stay on to admire the floodlight sanctuary, or slumber through night under the stars to ensure they have a prime spot to participate in the sunrise ceremonies on the following morning.
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  6. #6
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    Yasathon Bun Bangfai Rocket Festival
    Yasothon

    There are actually several Bun Bangfai Festivals in Isaan (“Bun” means Festival and “Bangfai” means Rocket). The oldest and largest festival is held at the Phaya Thaen Park in Yasathon each year. In 2008 the festival will be held from May 9-11.

    The reason for the festival is very simple: rain. The participants believe that by making-merit in the Buddhist Custom they will help to provide the rains needed to ensure a successful rice-planting season. The goals of the festival is to see how high a rocket can be fired and have as much fun as possible doing it without getting hurt in the process.

    The annual festival also includes beauty contests, a rocket parade, traditional dancing, and stage entertainment.

    The First day of the festival is called “Wan Sook Dib” or roughly translated to “Half a day of this and Half a day of that.” Sook can mean cooked and Dib can mean raw: with all of the food available at the festival these are good words to know. On this day the participants join in a parade accompanied by colorfully dressed dancers. The procession ends with the paying of homage to Chao Pu. Chao Pu is the Spirit (Ghost) of the City Pillar.

    The Second day begins with a parade of Rockets. Some will be transported on trailers or trucks and some will be transported on traditional carts. The rockets are beautifully decorated with gold and many have a dragon’s head at the top that sprays water from the mouth. As the parade progresses towards the Temple there is dancing, singing, and generally a good time for the participants to relax and enjoy a large community at play. With the arrival at the temple there will be ordinations of young men that will spend a period of time serving as Monks in hopes of gaining merit for various reasons. The temple is very lovely and there are many beautiful artworks available.

    The Third day is when the rockets are finally given the opportunity to fly. The God that allows the rains to fall is called Phraya Thaen. The brave men that actually launch the rockets have their faces covered in mud. Whether this is an effort to protect themselves from the heat of the rockets or to disguise against Phraya Thaen (who might be annoyed at having his rains manipulated by men) the mud seems like a very good idea.

    The Bang Fai Rockets are generally made form the lower have of a bamboo tree and contain a mixture of nitrate, saltpowder, and charcoal. Rockets come in different categories including: Bang Fai Kilo, Bang Fai Meun, and Bang Fai Saen. Bang Fai Kilo Rockets contain one kilogram of nitrate, Meun contains 12 kilograms of nitrate, and Saen contains 120 kilograms of nitrate.

    If every thing goes well some of the rockets can achieve heights of around 600 meters (1969 feet) and the rains will come.

    pclev

  7. #7
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    Phi Ta Khon Festival
    Loei

    According to legend, when Prince Vessandorn, the Buddha's penultimate incarnation, returned to his city, the welcoming procession was so delightful that sprits emerged to celebrate. Phi Ta Khon is celebrated largely by young men who dress as spirits to parade a sacred Buddha image and tease villagers. Buddhist monks recite the story of the Buddha's last incarnation before attaining Enligntenment.

    benchama

    July 4-6, 2008

    Where: Amphoe Dan Sai

    Held in the Dan Sai district of Loei province, about 450km north of Bangkok, this annual festival is part of a Buddhist holiday known locally as Bun Pha Ves. Although its origins are obscure, many think that its roots revolve around a tale of the Buddha's last life.
    According to Buddhist folklore, the Buddha-to-be was born as Prince Vessandorn, a generous man who gave away a white elephant - revered as a symbol of rain. His neighbouring villagers were so angry for fear of drought and famine, that they banished Vessandorn into exile.

    When he eventually returned (when the King felt guilty and summoned him home), his people welcomed him back with a celebration so loud that even the dead were awakened from their slumbers to join in the festivities.

    Nowadays, young male villagers prepare their ghostly attire and masks, while children roam around town playing tricks. Sheets or blankets are sewn together to look like shrouds while traditional wooden bamboo containers used to store sticky rice (huad), are made into bizarre hats. Huge masks carved from the bases of coconut trees are also an integral part of the celebrations.

    The first day hosts a masked procession, accompanied by music and dancing. On the second, the villagers dance their way to the temple and fire off bamboo rockets to signal the end of the procession. Along the way, monks recite the story of the Buddha's last incarnation before attaining enlightenment. On the last day, the villagers gather at the local temple, Wat Ponchai, to listen to the message of the 13 sermons of the Lord Buddha, recited by the local monks. thailandgrandfestival.com

    The Phi Ta Khon festival is unique to the Dan Sai district in Loei Province and reflects the local Isan belief in ghosts and spirits. Held once a year, it is part of a grand merit-making festival known as the "Boon Luang" festival.
    A HAPPY GATHERING OF FUN-LOVING SPIRITS

    The origins of the Phi Ta Khon Festival can be found in the tale of Lord Buddha's last great incarnation before attaining Enlightenment. In Buddhist accounts, it is said that when Prince Vessandara, the Buddha's penultimate incarnation, returned to his city, it was such a joyous occasion that the village spirits came forth to join the welcoming parade. This very colourful and vibrant Phi Ta Khon procession is the central focus of the celebrations.

    In a lively re-enactment of the tale, the young men of the community dress up as "spirits" wearing long trailing costumes made from colourful strips of cloth sewn together.

    The hideous-looking Phi Ta Khon mask which is made of dried sticky rice husk is painted in bright red, green or other colours, and features the characteristic long pointed nose. This completes the transformation. The clanging sound of the square cowbells worn around the waist announces the presence of the spirits who wield phallic-shaped long-handled swords decorated with red paint. The good-natured, fun-loving spirits mingle among the crowd, teasing and amusing all who take part in the procession. Spectators and visitors are welcome to join in the fun.

    There are two types of "spirits" featured in the Phi Ta Khon procession namely the "Phi Ta Khon Yai" -- the supreme Phi Ta Khon, and the "Phi Ta Khon Lek", the ones that are commonly found. The making of the Phi Ta Khon Yai involves the performance of a sacred ritual to seek the blessings of the supreme powers before work on the Phi Ta Khon Yai masks can be initiated. It is also a task reserved exclusively for the descendants of families in which the tradition of making Phi Ta Khon masks has been practised for several generations. The Phi Ta Khon Yai is made of bamboo and is dressed in either male or female attire.

    DESTINATION HIGHLIGHTS - QUICK REFERENCE
    Loei is a border town adjacent to present-day Laos, formerly known as the Lan Xang Kingdom in the past. Many of the temples and archaeological sites in Loei thus reflect the influence of the Lan Xang artistic style, particularly the sloping roof covered with wooden tiles commonly found in Loei. Other distinctive features can be seen in the Ubosot or ordination hall and the Viharn, the assembly hall.

    PHRA THAT SI SONG RAK STUPA
    The temple which was built in 1560 is of special significance as it symbolizes the fraternal relationship between two kings, namely Somdet Phra Maha Chakkaphat of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and Phra Chao Chaiya Chetthathirat of the Lan Xang Kingdom, who took a pledge of peace at the stupa that neither would encroach on the other's territory, and to unify their forces against the invading army.

    The Lan-Xang style stupa is located on a hill by the Man River and marks the borderline between the two kingdoms. The stupa is a 30-metres high brick-and-concrete structure in the shape of a "cubical lotus", similar to the Phra That Phanom stupa in Nakhon Phanom Province, Phrat That Luang in Vientianne and other such stupas found along the banks of the Mekong River.

    WAT PHO CHAI TEMPLE
    The temple was built in the late Ayutthaya period and has served as the town's sanctuary and moral refuge for generations.

    Assumed to be of the Chiang Saen period, the temple houses a magnificent statue depicting the meditating Buddha with an elongated face and a flamboyant top-knot. The mural paintings in the Viharn or assembly hall depict the Jataka, the ten previous lives of the Lord Buddha. An inscription on the northern wall suggests that the mural paintings were completed in 1852 during the reign of King Rama IV. Mural paintings on the outer walls of the viharn were completed in 1916.

    PHRA THAT SATCHA STUPA
    Phra That Satcha literally means the temple of truthful pledge.

    One year following the collapse of the Phra That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom, considered to be the most revered Buddhist stupa in Northeastern Thailand, this 33-metre high stupa was constructed on a large rocky foundation.

    Modelled after the original Phra That Phanom, the Phra That Satcha was constructed to continue the religious symbolism represented by the original stupa in Nakhon Phanom. This helped to heal the sense of loss following the tragic collapse of the original stupa and re-proclaimed the pledge to preserve Buddhism in the region.

    Relics of the Lord Buddha and his followers and soil from the original Phra That Phanom were consecrated within the new stupa. A gilded Buddha's footprint is housed within the stupa.
    thailandgrandfestival.com


    Pee Ta Khon Festival in the Dahn Sai District of Loei Province. This is a Three Day Festival with a parade and some really interesting cultural meanings to each of the Days/Events. (Betti)

    Here is the Link provided by Betti: Pee Ta Khon Festival

    TAT:
    Phi Ta Khon Festival
    Date : June-July 2008
    Venue : Dan Sai District, Loei
    Phi Ta Khon is an utterly unique celebration during the Bun Luang Festival, the biggest yearly merit-making ceremony of entertainment, the locals believe that it is also rain-making ceremony. The most interesting part of the festival is the uniqueness of the costumes. The participants wear a ghost mask, made of a colourful bamboo sticky rice steamer, and dress in a costume made of many pieces of fabric sewn together. The masked “ghosts” have a special bell that they wear around their waists. The first activity, which normally starts in the Phra Uppakhut image. In the afternoon, many colourful parades commence. Both small and large Phi Ta Khons will participate in the procession of Budhisattra Vessantara, the Buddha’s penultimate incarnation into the city. There is also a rocket procession. Each village will make their own parade for the competition and other cultural performances.
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  8. #8
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    Candle Festival
    Ubon Ratchathani

    The commencement of Phansa, the annual 3-month Buddhist Rains Retreat, when all monks reside in their monasteries, is celebrated with a lovely Candle Festival. Intricately sculpted beeswax candles, some several meters tall, generally depicting mythological creatures, are ceremoniously paraded before being presented to local temples.

    benchama

    Celebration is during the Full Moon of July. July 1-9,2008

    Where:Thung Si Mueang Park
    Opening Hours: Procession starts at 8am

    The commencement of the Buddhist Rains Retreat is observed in the northeastern city of Ubon Ratchathani with this lovely festival that highlights artistic skills as well as religious devotion.
    Colorful candlelit processions take place, and the carved beeswax candles are then presented to local temples. Fashioned by local artisans, the candles come in all shapes and sizes and may be several meters tall. The event is said to commemorate the Buddha's first sermon after attaining Enlightenment more than 2500 years ago.

    One account of the origins of this retreat time, when Buddhist monks must remain in their temple, says that the monks were afraid of accidentally killing the insects that abound during the rains (which goes against the Buddhist precept of respect for all living beings). Another version has it that farmers tired of wandering monks squashing their new rice!

    Every Thai man is expected to enter the sangha (monkhood) at some time and Buddhist Lent is a popular time to do so. Ordination ceremonies take place at every wat (temple) and can be mesmerizing, with young novices sporting freshly shaven heads and white robes. The family of the novice makes donations, which are paraded around the temple compound and can include items as practical as mosquito repellent and washing powder. Fully-fledged monks observe 227 rules and novices are expected to observe the lifestyle of a monk for personal development and as an example to the community.

    Evening candlelit processions are staged in all Thai Buddhist temples during this time, although Ubon Ratchathani is particularly noted for its elaborate candle carvings and the high spirit of the processions.

    As the seasonal monsoon rains descend over the kingdom, it marks the beginning of the Buddhist "rain retreat" and the Buddhist Lent, or "Phansa", during which all Buddhist monks retreat to the temples. This is also an auspicious time for Buddhist ordinations as it marks a period of spiritual renewal.
    Known as "Khao Phansa", the Buddhist Lent is a time devoted to study and meditation. Buddhist monks remain within the temple grounds and do not venture out for a period of three months starting from the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month (in July) to the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eleventh lunar month (in October).

    FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

    CANDLE EXHIBITION
    An exhibition of Lenten Candles at Thung Sri Muang Park featuring crafted candles, moulded candles and ancient candles.

    CANDLE CRAFTING
    The beeswax candles of Ubon Ratchathani province generally fall into one of four types - candles on a square structure or Mondop, a beeswax castle or Prasat pueng, candles that form a cone-shaped structure called Poom and candles that are tied together, Mat Ruam.

    Mandapa-shaped Candles (Mondop)
    A mondop or mandapa is a structural form with a square base and a spired or pyramidal roof. Mondop candles are used as a receptacle to hold sacred offerings which are brought to temples during the 'kathin' season when monk robes are presented as offerings. Mandapa-shaped candles are used only for worship; they are not lit.

    Beeswax Candle Castle (Prasat Pueng)
    The beeswax candle castle is one of the elements of Buddhist merit-making rituals. These are also used in ancestor worship rituals to dedicate merit to ancestors. The beeswax 'castle' is also sometimes featured in propitiation rituals. However the use of the trunk of a banana tree, parts of which are folded into triangular-shapes, is preferred. Taro, turnip or sweet potato are sometimes carved into the floral shapes and dipped into heated beeswax, left to dry and used to decorate the banana tree.

    Cone-Shaped (Poom)
    Smaller candles are bonded together to form a cone-shaped structure. They serve a decorative purpose and are used to adorn the main candle. These are then presented as merit-making offerings.

    Candles that are tied together (Mat Ruam)
    Smaller candles are simply tied together into a bunch before they are presented as merit-making offerings. The cone-shaped poom and mat ruam candles are similar. Both reflect the ingenuity of villagers in creating a variety of ways to adorn their candle offerings.

    THE ROYAL CHALERM PHRA KIAT CANDLE
    The magnificent Royal Chalerm Phra Kiat Candle is being specially-crafted to mark the auspicious occasion of the Sixtieth Anniversary of His Majesty the King's Accession to the Throne and reflects a blend of local folk wisdom and national artistic flair.

    THE GRAND CANDLE PROCESSION
    The magnificent Grand Candle Procession will comprise 20 different candle processions, led by the Procession of the Royal Candle. Processions of 69 Lenten candles follow. Sixty of the candles are crafted or moulded candles and ancient candles crafted by the various communities of Ubon Ratchathani province. Nine are masterpieces created by candle artisans in the International Candle-Carving Competition. Presentations of I-San folk culture by some 2,000 performers add a colourful aspect to the festival.

    Youth Candle Carving Contests and Provincial Candle Carving Contests will also be held in separate categories as part of the Ubon Ratchathani Grand Candle Festival.
    thailandgrandfestival.com

    TAT:
    Join the alms-giving for Asalha Puja and the Khao Phansa Buddhist ceremony. Participate in the ceremony of welcoming His Majesty the King’s royal candle and the international candle-carving competition from various countries, as well as taste “Pha Khao Laeng” , a local food especially prepared for tourists.

    The attached picture was taken by yeows and is shown in the Thailandqa Photo Album.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
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    Illuminated Boat Procession
    Nakhon Phanom

    This provincial capital on the bank of the Mekong river, facing Laos, celebrates the end of the 3-month Buddhist Rains Retreat with a 6-day festival, which features folk entertainment and boat races, and a spectacular night-time Illuminated Boat Procession.

    benchama

    October

    As night falls, majestic 'fire boats', elaborately-adorned with flowers, incense sticks, candles and lanterns and each bearing an assortment of ritual offerings, are set alight and floated down the Mekong River.
    Against the darkness of the moonlit night, the sight of flickering light from candles and lanterns on magnificent 'fire boats' drifting downstream on the Mekong River, is both mesmerising and awe-inspiring. It is this enchanting spectacle that has given the water-borne procession its very name - 'Lai Reua Fai', which literally means to set afloat a 'fire boat'.

    The illuminated boat procession is celebrated in I-San, the northeastern region of Thailand on the 15th day of the waxing moon to the first day of the waning moon in the 11th lunar month of the Buddhist calendar, usually a month earlier than the corresponding month in the conventional calendar. This dazzling event marks the end of the Buddhist Lent or 'Ok pansa' and is accompanied by a colourful street procession and cultural performances which add to the highlights of the event which is held annually.

    Illuminated boats vary in shape and form and reflect cultural identity, artistic and cultural splendour, indigenous culture and beliefs, folk knowledge and skills. Designs inspired by Buddhist motifs, The Royal Barges, mythical characters in I-san and Brahmin legend and folklore are depicted. Naga - the Serpent King, Hong - the swan, the sacred steeds of the Brahmin gods - Hamsa, the sacred goose and mount of Brahma, Garuda - the mount of Phra Narai (Vishnu), Erawan - the mount of Indra and Ganesh - the elephant-headed son of Shiva are commonly featured.

    Origins of the Illuminated Boat Procession
    The Illuminated Boat Procession reflects Buddhist origins as well as animistic beliefs and the worship of the forces of nature.

    According to some scholars, the ritual is based on ancient Buddhist tales and is undertaken to pay respect to the sacred footprint of the Lord Buddha on the bank of the mythical Nammadhammahantee river and in honour of the Buddhist trinity - Phra Buddha, Lord Buddha; Phra Dhamma - his teachings and Phra Sangkha - disciples of the Lord Buddha.

    In his seventh lent, in remembrance of his mother, Buddha ascended to the heavens to deliver a sermon to his mother. There he resided throughout the entire period of the three-months Rains Retreat or the Buddhist Lent. At the end of the Rains Retreat which falls on the first day of the waning moon of the eleventh lunar month, Lord Buddha returned to earth, descending by the Celestial Stairway comprising of the Silver, Gold and Crystal stairs.

    Delighted by the news of Buddha's return to earth once again, Buddha's disciples and followers prepared to receive him with offerings of food and other sacred items being presented. 'Tak Bat Devo', the Buddhist merit-making ritual performed on the final day of the festival signals the end of the Buddhist Lent, originates from the word "Devorohana" and refers to Buddhist celebrations marking the special occasion of the return of the Lord Buddha to earth, as mentioned in ancient Buddhist tales.

    In traditional river-based communities which rely on the river as a source of food, harvesting fish and other marine life from the river and planting crops on the banks of the river in the dry season when the water level recedes, water is the essence of life. In riparian cultures, ritual offerings are made to Mae Khongkha - Mother of Waters in an act of appeasement to beg for her forgiveness for Man's carelessness in polluting pristine waters - the source of all life; The Naga - the mythical Serpent God associated with water that dwells in three realms: beneath the earth where it guards minerals and gems, in bodies of still and flowing water, and in the skies where it creates the rain which nourishes crops; and other celestial powers responsible for the gift of life revered by the I-San people. By setting the 'fireboats' adrift, one also symbolically casts away one's grief, misery and ill-fortunes.

    Traditionally, a 'fireboat' was hewn out of a 10-12 metre banana tree trunk or and other buoyant material readily found in the vicinity. The various forms and structure it takes is made by shaping spliced bamboo slithers and other inflammable components. Contemporary versions are either made from actual boats or petrol drums adorned with flowers, incense sticks, candles, light bulbs, fireworks and pyrotechnics. Once the ritual offerings have been made, the boats are salvaged and recycled for the next festival.
    thailandgrandfestival.com
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  10. #10
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    Wax Castle & Boat Racing Festival
    Sakon Nakhon

    Local villagers celebrate the end of the annual Buddhist Rains Retreat by creating minature beeswax Buddhist temples and shrines ('wax castles'), in the belief the accurred 'merit' enables them to personally determine their future rebirth. After their creations have been ceremoniously paraded throughout the provincial capital, and presented to temples, the province's colorful annual regatta is staged (the following day). Festivities normally last 4 days.

    benchama

    October

    To mark the end of Buddhist Lent or 'Ok Pansa', communities in Northeastern Thailand or 'I-San' stage an annual celebration consisting of a grand procession of meticulously-carved wax castles, long-boat races and festive celebrations. On the final day of the festival, which falls on the end of the Buddhist Lent, local residents make a trip to the temples to make merit.
    This ancient folk tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. Over the centuries, the tradition has evolved. Originally, ornate wax trees carved out of poles of beeswax were presented to temples along with other merit-making ritual offerings. Contemporary offerings consist of elaborate designs and sophisticated shapes and forms. Beeswax is molded into miniature Buddhist temples and shrines or wax castles.

    The significance of the merit-making ritual is based on the Buddhist concept of reincarnation - the belief that upon death, an individual passes on to another life. According to Buddhist teachings, it is believed that a person's destiny is determined by meritorious acts or good deeds performed in the present life. If individuals conscientiously observe and practice Buddhist principles by performing good deeds and by engaging in acts of Buddhist devotion, individuals earn and accumulate merit during their lifetime. Depending on the merit they have earned, in subsequent lives, individuals progress to the point where they attain spiritual enlightenment and reside in the upper tiers of heaven, or are re-born into a life that is worse than the last.

    The practice also constitutes a form of ancestor worship. The wax castle itself is symbolises the ideal spiritual residence devout Buddhists aspire to in their future life.

    Based on this belief, making merit by presenting offerings to monks evolved as a Buddhist ritual known as "tak baht". The "baht" being the bowl in which the alms and offerings presented to the monks are placed.

    The annual wax castle procession is a special time for family reunions with relatives reunited in merit-making activities, sharing in goodwill as well as good times. Community resources are pooled and monks and community members join hands to craft these ornate wax castles as merit-making offerings and to stage a grand ceremony and festive celebrations - a notable expression of Buddhist devotion and one which strengthens the bond between the village temple and the community it serves.

    These crafted models can be seen especially in Sakon Nakhon where an annual festival is held with a grand wax castle procession, competitive long-boat races as well as traditional northeastern cultural performances among many other festivities.

    The Significance of 'Ok Pansa', the End of the Buddhist Lent
    During his final incarnation and his seventh lent, in remembrance of his mother, Lord Buddha ascended to the heavens to deliver a sermon to his mother. There he resided throughout the entire period of the three-months Rains Retreat or the Buddhist Lent.

    At the end of the Rains Retreat which falls on the first day of the waning moon of the eleventh lunar month, Lord Buddha returned to earth after teaching his mother in Thavatimsa heaven, descending by the Celestial Stairway comprising of the Silver, Gold and Crystal stairs.

    Delighted by the news of Buddha's return to earth once again, Buddha's disciples and followers prepared to receive him with offerings of food and other sacred items being presented. 'Tak Baht Devo', the Buddhist merit-making ritual performed on the final day of the festival signals the end of the Buddhist Lent, originates from the word "Devorohana" and refers to Buddhist celebrations marking the special occasion of the return of the Lord Buddha to earth, as mentioned in ancient Buddhist tales.
    Thailandgrandfestival.com
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