February 22, 2016
Mon Songkran Festival Where the ancient Mon People show case their cultural history
When: Annually 13 -20th April
This small province (ranked 74th out of 76 provinces in the Kingdom) is directly northwest of Bangkok on the Chao Phraya River and is in fact part of the greater Bangkok Metropolitan Area. Within its small boarders the majority of its people are of Mon descent and this festival is the biggest annual event for these ancient people
This square shaped small island, can proudly boast one of the most colourful Songkran festivals in the Kingdom and hosts, a number of activities; from the blaze of colour of the Mon people, dressed in their traditional clothing and marching in the parade, to the numerous traditional Mon plays and daily activities, including demonstrations of the ancient game of Saba, added to this array of activities are smaller shows featuring traditional Mon music and dance such as Tha yae Mon .
Of course as this is still Songkran, there will be an element of water throwing and the more subtle, traditional Songkran activities of making merit by releasing into the wild fish and birds, ending with a charity performance in the middle of village with traditional Mon dancing to respect the spirits of the village.
As you would expect there will be a hoard of vendors selling all manner of handicrafts and food
Ancient Mon Games
Lor Kon Krok / Rolling a Mortar Bottom
Lor Kon Krok is primary played by communities living within or near pottery producing villages. The aim of the game is for players to control a rolling mortar bottom with a coconut stalk. See more on this game (UNESCO/United Nations Educational, Scientific Cultural Organization)
Len Saba / Tossing Saba Seeds
Saba is one of Thailand’s oldest traditional games and is played by both Thai and Mon ethnic communities. The aim of the game is for players to pick up the Saba seed and using their knees, legs or feet, flick or throw it at their opponent’s target. The game originally brought together local communities during New Year festivities and provided an opportunity for young men and women to interact with each other in a playful manner. See more on this traditional Mon game (UNESCO)
More on Ko Kret
Ko Kret (also Koh Kred) is an island in the Chao Phraya River, 20 km north of Bangkok, Thailand.
The island is renowned above all as a centre for kwan aman, a style of Mon pottery, which is fundamentally just baked unglazed red clay carved with intricate patterns. Prices for the simplest and smallest pots start from 5 baht, but can go up to hundreds or even thousands of baht for large ornate pieces. Particularly popular among visitors are candle and incense holders with ornate patterns of holes to let the smoke or light out, costing around 200 baht.
There are around 20 pottery workshops on the island and you will see many kilns as you walk around, but the primary shopping districts (perhaps too grandiose a word) are the imaginatively named:
- Pottery Village #1(Mu Neung) – on the east coast south of Wat Poramai Yikawat.
- Pottery Village #6(Mu Hok) – on the north coast to the west of the wat
Another good reason to visit the island is to try the local treats mainly Thai and Mon snacks and desserts. The most famous of which is the dish called “Khao Cher” (ข้าวแช่). This Mon specialty dish which was a favorite dish of Royalty cooked and served on hot days, consists of fine jasmine rice soaked in water and jasmine flowers to give it a floral tinge.
The rice is served with the addition of cubes of ice along with a number of dainty side dishes, such as Shrimp kapi balls, shredded pork plus, succulent green chili stuffed with pork, wrapped in an egg net. Even with its royal seal of approval the dish is hard to find most anywhere besides here on the island. “Tod mun pla nor gala” is another treat worth trying, spiced fish cake with the shoots of local ginger.
Other things to do while in the province
Nonthaburi Province is renowned for growing the best durian in the country, where it has been grown for over 400 years. The fruit is known as “durian Nont” which means durian from Nonthaburi Province. It is also known as the most expensive durian in the world. If you like your fruit why not stop in at the Nonthaburi Fruit Fair
Nonthaburi Fruit Fair
This fair is organized annually during mid-April to the beginning of June at rip-rap court in front of the old city hall, Muang District. There are booths selling fruits, flowers plants and decorative plants produced in Nonthaburi such as mangosteen, santol, Burmese grape, mango and of course Durian amongst other tasty local fruits.
Contact: Nonthaburi Provincial office of Tourism and Sport Bangkra-Sor, Nonthaburi 11000 , Thailand Tel. 0-2589-5479
For other locations across the country with their own twists to Songkran see our post Songkran across Thailand
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