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Rocket Festival
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Thread: Rocket Festival

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Paknam, Samut Prakan, Thailand
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    MAY 9 11, 2003

    In a country where agriculture and farming sustains the livelihood of over 70% of the population, the festivals and ceremonies associated with a bountiful harvest are central elements of the way of life in the rural communities. Agricultural productivity and abundance are the principle objectives of both the royal as well as the folk traditions. These rituals performed on auspicious dates in the sixth lunar month (approximately in May) signal the beginning of the planting season.

    Born of the traditional beliefs of the Isan people, the sprightly "Bun Bung Fai" Rocket Festival, the most celebrated of Isan's merit-making rituals, has been strictly observed by the residents of Isan for generations and is essentially an annual ritual to ensure that the seasonal rains fall at the appropriate time in the planting cycle. In this process, Buddhist merit-making traditions are also observed and reinforced.

    The annual Bun Bung Fai celebrations being held this year are being held in conjunction with festivities to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the founding of Yasothon province. This promises to be an exceptionally grand affair. Special event highlights include a procession of old-style rockets mounted on traditional carts, a beauty pageant, and cheerleader and photo contests, and a traditional palaeng I-san style dinner being held on Saturday May 11.

    The festival which is held over a period of three days strengthens community spirit. The first day known as "Wan Sook Dib" features lively processions as rocket teams transport the "Bung Fai" rockets in a procession and perform a ritual to pay homage to Chao Pu, the spirit of the city pillar. Each is escorted by a colourful dance troupe.

    The second day is the rocket procession day. Modern-day rockets are mounted on vehicles or traditional carts to be drawn in the parade. The "bung fai" rockets come in different sizes. For example, the Bung Fai Kilo is packed with one kilogram of nitrate, while the Bung Fai Meun - 12 kilograms, and the Bung Fai Saen - 120 kilograms of nitrate. The rocket-making technicians play a vital role in deciding the right amount of nitrate to be mixed with the charcoal. With the wrong formula, a rocket could blow up prematurely before it is launched high into the sky. The rocket cylinders are usually made from the bottom half of the bamboo.

    It is also a day for the ordination of novices with festive celebrations follows merit-making rituals. Dance, music, song and revelry are integral elements of the processions as the parade of beautifully decorated rockets wind their way through the village on their way to the temple offering an opportunity for the residents and visitors to admire the impressive works of art.

    The rockets are finally launched on the third day in which various rocket contests are held. With the launch of the rockets, predictions are made with regard to the fortunes of the coming harvest. The Rocket Festival in Yasothon Province is spectacular and provides a tremendous opportunity to experience Isan-style festive fun.

    The Rocket Festival stems from the belief that when this merit-making ceremony is held, gods and spirits will reciprocate with seasonal rain and a bountiful harvest.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Thanked 156 Times in 110 Posts


    Villagers install two giant homemade rockets on wooden scaffolds before the launching during the Rocket Festival at a field in Yasothorn province, Thailand Sunday, May 11, 2003. The festival is held as a rite for rains and fertility before the beginning of the harvest season, the celebrations will induce the gods to bless the land with in-season rain and plentiful crops. The winning rocket is the one that stays in the air the longest before disappearing into the horizon and will get 20,000 baht (US$475). (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

    Two young Buddhist monks watch as a homemade rocket is launched from wooden scaffolds during the Rocket Festival at a field in Yasothorn province, Thailand Sunday, May 11, 2003. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

    A man wears the mask of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during a parade at Thailand's largest rainmaking festival in Yasothon province, 700 km (435 miles) northeast of Bangkok, May 10, 2003. The annual parade was held in the hopes of speeding the arrival of the monsoon season. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

  3. #3
    Just attended a two day Bun Bung Fai Festival in a small village about 30 km South of Nong Bhu Lum Phu. It was very interesting an a great time. Recommend all visitors to the Isan part of Thailand attend one of these festivals.

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