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The Lenten Candle Festival, Ubon Ratchatani
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    The Lenten Candle Festival, Ubon Ratchatani

    TRAVEL





    NORTHEAST

    By the light of Ubon
    By Pornwara Khongraktee
    Special to Daily Xpress

    The Lenten Candle Festival is under way, and today is the day secrets are revealed

    Today's annual parading of the carved candles in Ubon Ratchatani is a celebration of Buddhist Lent, but there's intrigue and rivalry aplenty.
    "We have to preserve the province's tradition for future generations," says Kaew Onghat as he helps prepare candles at Wat Burapha. "Everyone has to cooperate to get it done by the deadline."
    The residents cut up and melt beeswax and pour it into moulds to form components of the huge, elaborate candles and their decorations.

    A short drive away in Kamyai district, the process is repeated at Wat Nong Pla Pak, though you can see crucial differences in the carving style.
    This is a contest, though, and secrecy is the name of the game.
    "The highlight of the Candle Festival is seeing each temple's big candle. We have to keep the design secret so no one copies it," says Buarat Daengchat, head of Nong Pla Pak community.

    Judges award 60 per cent of their vote to the big candles and the rest to the other decorations on the parade floats.
    The parade begins at Thung Sri Muang Park in front of City Hall, where a giant wax pillar stands. More than 50 local temples each prepare a float.
    At the National Museum on the edge of the park, the International Wax Sculpture Exhibition is on view until Sunday.

    Nine foreign artists - from as far away as Italy and Japan - have put their imaginations to work in wax, using local labour and relying on their own translators.
    "My sculpture shows two wings that lovingly hold each other while they surround our planet," says Nils Hansen from Germany.
    "Candles are very significant - bright light represents civilisation," adds Janak Jhankar Nazary from India, who has carved lotus flowers.

    XTRA
    Tale of the temples
    >> Wat Phrathat Nong Bua has a pagoda 17 metres tall that houses a relic of the Lord Buddha.
    >> Wat Thung Si Muang has a wooden scripture hall.
    >> Wat Supattanaram Worawihan has a special ubosot with a Thai-style roof, a Western-style hall and Khmer-style basement.
    >> For more about the
    festival, call (04) 524 3770 or visit www.TATUbon.org.th or www.GuideUbon.com.

    Additional pictures from "The Nation"
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    Re: The Lenten Candle Festival, Ubon Ratchatani

    Totally Impressive!

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