May 6, 2015
A diverse mix of people celebrating each others culture
When: Normally early May (2017 TBA)
‘Ngan Bun Klang Ban’ (roughly meaning to ‘Work Together Traditional Fair’) This ancient festival is to celebrate the coming together of three distinct groups of people; the original ethnic Thai’s who from historical evidence, are believed to have first settled in the region sometime during the Ayutthaya period (1351 to 1767).
Much later in 1828 they were joined by the majority of the then Lao community of Bangkok, who were relocated to the area.
They were in turn joined in 1848, by the large Chinese community from Chachoengsao Province, who moved to the then ever growing city.
Although the three differing people brought with them their own beliefs, culture, language and weaving styles. Even with these many differences the three individual communities have successfully lived in harmony and this festival is a chance to rejoice in each other’s traditions.
The second part of festival is a newer addition, in part to bring attention to the skills of the local weavers and to preserve these centuries’ old traditions, first promoted by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Sirikit, when in July 1976 she found the ‘Support Foundation’.
Merit Making and Spirits
The annual three day festival is held in the 6th Thai lunar month, the activities includes merit making including making offerings to the 99 monks who provide the Buddhist element to this mix of faiths and spiritual beliefs. Blessings are also asked of the many differing spirits, (see more on Supernatural Thailand) to ensure a plentiful new harvest and both good health and wealth to the families of those attending.
There is also a Parade featuring a vast amount of different woven goods from all three ethnic groups, accompanied by its people dressed in their finest traditional clothing.
The festival also features a dazzling 112 foot long Chinese Dragon, which is brought to life as its entire body twists and curls through the air. Part of the myth of the dragon is that the longer the creature, the more luck it will bring.
The Chinese have a long held belief that they are descendants of the dragon, a tradition that is firmly embedded in their culture and one that is encountered, across all aspects of Chinese society and in the minds of its people. Whereas in western cultures the dragon is usually regarded as a symbol of malevolence, in China it is held in high esteem for its dignity and power for good.
That’s not all, the event includes an array of shows demonstrating the weaver’s art and folk performances in dance and music, not to mention a mass of stalls scattered everywhere selling all manner of local handicrafts and succulent hot and cold Thai dishes.
This melting pot of faith and culture demonstrates in a most colourful way just how diverse the people of Thailand are and how the Kingdom has benefited by welcoming ethnic groups from all over Asia.
More on Weaving in Phanat Nikhom
More on Thai beliefs in what some may term Occult
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