Traditional Candle Festival Marks the Start of Buddhist Lent
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invites international and local travellers to join the Thai Buddhist community nationwide in marking the start of this year’s Buddhist Lent from 11-13 July 2014. Legend has it that when the Lord Buddha was travelling and spreading his teachings, it was traditional for ascetics to retire to retreats during the rainy season. This period was known as vassa and was aimed at preventing crop damage during vital growing periods.
For modern Buddhist monks, it is a time of retreat and reflection. Buddhist Lent, or Khao Phansa as it is known in Thailand, lasts for three months. During this period, monks stay within their temples for study and adhere strictly to the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT Governor said, “To mark the start of this auspicious period, Buddhist devotees and the Thai people nationwide organise special celebrations that also reflect local traditions and beliefs. This gives tourists the chance to really connect with some of Thailand’s more unique festivals and immerse themselves in some delightful local customs that can’t be found elsewhere.”
Among some of the more unique celebrations marking Buddhist Lent in Thailand this year are:
International Wax Candle Festival and Wax Candle Procession, from 11-14 July at Thung Si Mueang, Ubon Ratchathani, acts as a showcase for some of the world’s best examples of candle carving with masterpieces crafted by artists from Bulgaria, Costa Rica, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Spain, Ukraine, the United States of America, and Thailand.
Korat Candle Festival, from 11-13 July at the Tao Suranaree Monument, Nakhon Ratchasima, is a display of exquisitely carved candles that will depict the story of the Lord Buddha, the royal projects in honour of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the many historical attractions of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Candle Procession and Elephant Back Merit Making, from 10-11 July at the Monument of Phaya Surin Phakdi Sri Narong Changwang, Surin boasts a procession of nearly 100 elaborately-decorated elephants carrying some of the town’s most highly-revered monks around town in a unique and memorable merit-making ceremony.
Tak Bat Dok Mai (Floral merit-making) and Royal Candle Festival, from 11-13 July at Wat Phra Phutthabat, Khun Khlon sub-district, Saraburi, is a unique festival in which Buddhists will present Dok Khao Phansa – traditional yellow and white blooms – to monks ascending the temple steps to pay respect to the Buddha’s Footprint as well as wash the monks’ feet as a way of making merit and washing away sins.
Aquatic Phansa Festival, on 11 July at Khlong Lat Chado, Phak Hai, Ayutthaya, marks Khao Phansa in a unique way with a long and colourful procession of boats carrying candles to the temple. There are also several other activities that reflect the local way of life the people at the canal-side village of Lat Chado.
Pattaya Candle Festival, from 9-10 July at Pattaya Beach Road, highlights candle processions that start from Central Beach Road to the Walking Street as well as a candle carving competition and candle floating competition – all set to reflect the local and traditional lifestyle in Pattaya.
Suphan Buri Candle Festival, from 11-13 July at Wat Pa Wat Pa Lelai Woravihara, presents the spectacular procession of candles around the province’s main town as well as local folk performances, candle procession competition and candle floating decoration competition
Source: Tourism Authority of Thailand