September 4, 2016
Lak Phra and Tak Bat Thewo (งานประเพณีลากพระและ ตักบาตรเทโว)
Two festivals for the price of one Lak Phra and Tak Bat Thewo: When the people of this southern province celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent
When: 15-16th October 2016
Where: Through-out Amphoe Mueang Songkhla, Songkhla Province. Southern Thailand.
Tak Bat Thewo is held on the first day of the waning moon in the eleventh lunar month, 16th October 2016. The same festival is found in Uthai Thani, west-central Thailand, where it is also known as Tak Bat Devo Festival.
The Lak Phra event starts one day earlier, with a solemn ceremony to wrap a new large red cloth, around the top of the Chedi on the mountain of Khao Tang kuan. In Buddhism the color red symbolizes life-force, preservation, fire, and sacred things or places. This sacred hill-top Dvaravati Chedi housing the Lord Buddha’s relics, was built during the Nakhon Si Thammarat Kingdom, when large swathes of the Malay peninsula were under its domain, today many centuries later it still commands a panoramic view of the city and the Songkhla Lake.
The following morning (16th October), heralds the Thai Buddhist festival of Wan Ok Phansa (Thai: วันออกพรรษา; literally “the Final Day of the Vassa“) which marks the end of ‘Buddhist Lent’ known as Wan Khao Phansa, it is here in this southern city at the foot of the hill, several hundred monks will walk down from Khao Tang kuan to receive alms from the local people (Tak Bat Thewo).
Later in the morning, floats carrying Buddha images from various temples in Songkhla will travel in a procession along the waterfront, enabling the local people, to again take part in the festivities by pulling the floats bearing the Buddha images (lak phra), such acts (including giving alms) are considered highly meritorious, especially on this day, which is possibly the nation’s most revered day of the year.
The floats eventually congregate at the beautiful lotus pond, where they will participate in the float decoration contest. The festivities continue on the cities festival ground, where there are a range of art and cultural performances and of course a vast array of people selling all manner of local handicrafts and delicious food and drinks
If you do take a trip to see the Chedi and the famous Sala Vihan Daeng, the royal pavilion built during the reign of King Rama V; both situated at the peak of Khao Tang Kuan, then it is worth noting that there are two ways to reach the sumit:
1) Use the elevator at the junction road between Khao Tang Kuan and KhaoNoi. The fee is 30 baht for adults and 20 baht for children. It is opened from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday-Friday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays.
2) Use the stair way on the west side which is opposite to the elevator. While it is somewhat of a climb there are numerous rest points and viewpoints, to catch your breath.
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.
Nakhon Nayok Province has a similar spiritual event of Tak Bat Thewo Rohana, featuring hundreds of Buddhist monks. 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
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