September 29, 2015
Fire Boat Procession Nakhon Phanom – A centuries old festival that just gets better with age
When: 9th to 17th October 2016 In the wake of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing. This event has cancelled
Where: Muang District Nakhon Phanom Province Northeast Thailand
This annual event marks the end of the Thai Buddhist Lent and is held from 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 western calendar). The eagerly awaited festival features a dazzling illuminated Fire Boat Procession (Lai Ruea Fai), the same procession has been practiced for centuries here in the province.
End of Buddhist Lent
Thailand celebrates one of its most important festivals around this time of the year when on the full moon of the eleventh Thai lunar month, (16th October 2016) the people of the Kingdom, take to their streets, water ways and seaboard, in joyful celebration, to commemorate the festival of Wan Ok Phansa, which in turn marks the end of the three months ‘Buddhist Lent’ known as Wan Khao Phansa. (Buddhism in Thailand is largely of the Theravada school, and is followed by 93.6% of the population), here in this northeast province it is also believed, that the ceremony will, with the help of the river, take away any misfortune, of those that attend.
In the early evening around fifty Ruea Fai or fire boats of up to 10m in length, are launched into the Mekong River. Each is lavishly decorated with flowers, incense sticks, candles and lanterns, (the latter are arranged on a bamboo structure fixed to the boats) to form illuminated images of temples, the king and dragons.
Originally, these boats were made of bamboo or from banana tree trunks and were far less elaborate, through the generations they have become more impressive and the decorations and lighting on each of the Fire Boats is now, far more spectacular.
There are many varied activities during the 8 day celebration, include merit-making and charitable activities in temples along with a colourful street procession. There are also displays and performances of old-style Muay Thai boxing, along with traditional dances, some of which are simply set to the music of gongs, plus an assortment of musical performances. As with all Thai festivals there will be a vast variety of stalls selling north-eastern cuisine and OTOP products and many other fun-filled, displays and contests featuring the ethnic culture of the region.
If you are fortunate enough to visit the province during the festival you may want to call in on the neighbouring province of Mukdahan and feast your eyes on annual Longboat Races held around the 13-16 October 2016. Thailand-Laos jointly host this annual boat race event in Mukdahan, which also celebrates the end of the Thai Buddhist Lent Period and includes the Tee Chang Nam Nong ceremony; sacrificing and worshiping of the Goddess of the Mekong River. This festival also includes traditional performances of the eight tribes of Mukdahan, featuring native people from Laos and Vietnam.
Contact Details : Nakon Phanom Provincial Office Tel. +66 4251 1287, +66 4251 1576 TAT Nakhon Phanom Office. Tel. +66 4251 3490-
Celebrations across Thailand
Celebrations at this time of the year are conducted through-out Thailand, with a vast array of different, vibrant festivals that sit hand in hand, with the religious rites, to mark the occasion of the end of the Buddhist Lent; each has its own uniqueness and is known by many names. In Thailand’s south the people celebrate this most auspicious occasion with their very own festival of Chak Phra (Phum Pha Pa), while also in the south the people of Phatthalung Province, go mad with drums in the Phon Lak Phra Festival.
The north has its spiritual Tak Bat Devo Festival, featuring hundreds of Buddhist monks, there are another two festivals similar to this event; Lak Phra and Tak Bat Thewo which is actually two events spread over two days and held in Songkhla Province, Southern Thailand, plus the far smaller ‘Tak Bat Thewo Rohana Fair‘ Wat Phutthawat in Kalasin Northeast Thailand.
The province of Sakon Nakhon features the amazing Wax Castle possession, while in the north east province of Nakhon Phanom you will find the dazzling Fire Boat Possession, the same region also has the beautiful Light Incense Festival.
Central Thailand offers you the chance to be part of the Lotus Flower Festival and in the Mae Hong Son Province, of North West Thailand you can be part of the uniquely Tai-Yai peoples event, that of the Chong Para Festival. Not forgetting throughout the Kingdom you can witness a whole host of Longboat races and Festivals.
The following day across the Kingdom, the 30 day Ritual of Krathin will begin, when monks will be offered new robes
For more information on Buddhist Lent click here
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