From the Blog

September 5, 2016

October Events across Thailand

Festivals through-out Thailand in October 2017

October is undoubtedly the festive month in the Thai calendar with heaps of events marking possibly the most important day; the end Of Buddhist lent on the 5th October. The day is known as Wan Ok Phansa  and is celebrated right across the Kingdom, with a mass of different festivals and events known by a multitude of names.

Combine these with the many other events that take place this month and you soon realize why this is the Nation’s busiest month for festivals. Listed here are the Kingdom’s top 40 plus events

 

For more on what’s happening each month click on any of the following

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober

NovemberDecember

 

The Thord Gathin Festival

Picture is from the DMC organisers who also arrange the annuall mass lantern release in Chaing Mai

Picture is from the DMC organisers who also arrange the anuall mass lantern release in Chiang Mai

 

This annual 30 day festival is celebrated across Thailand and where its people pay their respects to the Buddhist Faith

When: Annually the day after Wan Ok Phansa (6th October 2017)

Where: Across the Kingdom of Thailand

The Thord Gathin Festival is a 30 day festival that is celebrated from the last day of Buddhist lent. In Thailand the three month period of Lent (July – October) is called Wan Khao Phansa while the last day is called Wan Ok Phansa . this auspicious time is possibly the most important religious day in the Thai calendar.

Wan Ok Phansa (Thai: วันออกพรรษา; literally “the Final Day of the Vassa“) falls annually on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month (5th October 2017) This eagerly awaited day is full of joyful celebration and merit-making, for many families it is also the day they welcome back a son into the home and for them to celebrate his successful completion of a term in the temple.

Thord Gathin Festival or Thod Kathin (Thai: ทอดกฐิน) or Kathin Laen or simply as the Kathin Ritual, is celebrated across the Kingdom, with each village, town, city or province adding its own unique twist to the festivities and in some cases an additional name. This is in part due to the many cultures that make up this diverse country and their collective interpretation of Buddhist teachings.

The Kathin Ritual is also celebrated in the neighbouring countries, of Lao, Cambodia and Burma; where it is known as Kahtein. It is a time for temple grounds to be transformed into venues for traditional dancers, music and food stalls. It also allows those attending the Kathin Ritual to earn merit through the offering of robes to the the bhikkhus (Buddhist monks). Thord Gathin takes its name from the “laying down” of new robes to the monks.

For more on this event and what precepts are followed click here

 

 

Thailand has its own Nine Emperor Gods Festival and it is a time of abstinence, cleanliness and at times blood-letting.

October Events across Thailand Nine emperos

 

When: 1st – 9th October 2016 (2017 TBA)

Where: Across the Kingdom

Better known as Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival, the Kingdom celebrates ‘Nine Emperor Gods Festival.’

October is when Thailand is set to celebrate one of the country’s most popular cultural celebrations, that of the somewhat ironically named Vegetarian Festival (Thai: Tesagan Gin Je เทศกาลกินเจ).

The annual celebration is held for nine days during the ninth Chinese lunar month, with festivals held through-out the entire Kingdom. Vegetarian festivals have a very long tradition in Thailand and are believed to be based on the Chinese ‘Nine Emperor Gods Festival.’

While not all the venues relish in blood letting and piecing all manner of body parts, what they all have in common is a close link to Chinese customs and the chance for those that participate fully in the rituals to cleanse both their bodies and minds.

For more on what the festival means to the Chinese Thai, what one has to do to follow the cultural element of the festivities, plus a list of the biggest across the Kingdom click here.

 

 

King Chulalongkorn is known as the ‘Great Reformer’

October Events across Thailand King Chulalongkorn Day

 

 

King Chulalongkorn Day (Thai: “Wan Piyamaharaj Day” loosely translated as ‘The Beloved Great King’). Is a national holiday in Thailand and is held on the 23rd of October every year.

Born on September 20th 1853; King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) ascended the throne in 1868 at the tender age of only 15. He is known as as the ‘Great Reformer’

His Majesty passed away on October 23rd 1910 at the age of 57. He had ruled what was then Siam, for 42 years. He is the great grandfather of the current King of Thailand.

 

 Why is King Chulalongkorn one of Thailand’s most loved and revered Kings?

October Events across Thailand King Chulalongkorn Day 2016

King Chulalongkorn is considered one of the greatest kings of Thailand, his picture can be seen hanging in reverence in many public buildings and Thai homes and still adorns the back of Thailand’s 100 baht note. His reign was characterized by extensive social, educational and economic restructuring and development.

His greatest achievement was started in 1874 and became law in 1905, with the introduction of the “Slave Abolition Act” which made slavery a crime and thus ending the traditional corvee system; unpaid labour imposed by the state on certain classes of people. (The Abolition of Slavery was passed in England in 1833 and in the USA in 1865).

For more on the King and why he is still adored in Thailand click here.

 

 

Ayutthaya-Venice of the East

October Events across Thailand Ayutthaya-Venice of the East

 

A nostalgic steam train ride from the present capital to an ancient former capital

When: 23rd October each year

Where: Hua Lamphong railway station, Bangkok to Ayutthaya

Why not take a nostalgic steam train journey from Bangkok  to Ayutthaya, sedately winding gently through many old towns and villages of rural Thailand.

 

These somewhat pensionable steam trains only make 4 trips per year, in March to celebrate the anniversary of the State Railway of Thailand, then on 12th August (Queen’s Birthday), 23rd October (Chulalongkorn Day) and 5th December (Late King’s Birthday).

The new city of Ayutthaya is approx. 40 miles (64 km) north of Bangkok and the normal journey time is approx. 1 hour and 20 mins at a cost of 15 baht per person while the express train is a whole 20 baht per person, by taking the steam train the journey time is slightly longer by approx 30 minutes and the fare is 222 baht return.

For more on this festival click here.

 

 

Lak Phra and Tak Bat Thewo

October Events across Thailand Lak Phra and Tak Bat Thewo

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: 5-6th October 2017

Where: Through-out Amphoe Mueang Songkhla, Songkhla Province. Southern Thailand.

When: 5-6th October 2017

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, 6th October 2017. 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 6th 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.

Here in this southern city at the foot of the mountain, several hundred monks will descend from the hill top temple to receive alms from the local people. (Known as 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.

For more on this festival click here

 

 

The Chula Kathin Festival – A simple festival that takes 6 months of hard work and dedication 

 

The Chula Kathin Festival October Festivals across Thailand

Picture by Dr. L S McIntosh

 

When: 6 October – 5 November 2017

Where: In many temples in Mukdahan Northeast Thailand

 

Chula kathin, is a unique Buddhist festival of Mukdahan Province, that is a local adaptation of what is also known in the Kingdom as The Thord Gathin Festival, or Thod Kathin (Thai: ทอดกฐิน) or Kathin Laen or simply as the Kathin Ritual.

The national event is to celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent, (known as Wan Khao Phansa), and follows Wan Ok Phansa Day which falls on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month (6th October 2017).

This 30-day period of merit-making is a special opportunity for prayers to Buddha and for the presentation of gifts to the monks for preserving the faith. This 30-day span of merit making and religious gift giving is referred to as Thord Pha Gathin.

In this Isaan event, Chula means “a little”, and reflects the Buddhist belief that even small amounts of sharing and caring are welcome and beneficial. It is symbolized in this festival with small pieces of newly made fabric that are cut and then sewn together to form a monk’s robes.

For more on this festival click here

 

 

Termite Mushroom & Gem Festival

October Events across Thailand Termite mushroom and gem festival

While not the world’s most exciting of names this month long event is full of pleasant surprises

When: 1st – 31st October each year

Where: Bo Pphloi Municipality, Bo Phloi District, Kanchanaburi. North West Thailand

Thailand’s 3rd largest Province of Kanchanaburi is host again to the Het Khone (Termite Mushroom) & Gem Festival. Now in its 17th year, the month long event is a time for this beautiful province to show case two of its precious natural phenomena, both of which are abundant in the district of Bo Phloi, (the districts name actually means gemstone mine).

While gems can be seen all year round and in many parts of the Kingdom, these sort after mushrooms are seasonal, it is only now when you can join in the many events that take place throughout the month, featuring this King of mushrooms. The event features a host of activities from simply letting your taste buds loose and trying all manner of Het Khone dishes, to participating in a gigantic Termite Mushroom contest, plus a range of cooking contests focusing on the delectable fungus. There is also the Termite Mushroom Beauty Pageant, all this alongside a Gem Festival displaying locally made jewellery, many stage entertainment featuring leading Thai artists, and of course a vast array of stalls selling local produce and food.

For more on the festival and this unique mushroom that needs termites to exist click here

 

 

Urak Lawoi Sea Gypsies Festival

 

October Events across Thailand Urak Lawoi sea gypsies

 

Plajan or Loi Ruea Boat Floating Festival. Where the ancient beliefs of an ever adapting group of Sea Gypsies are blended with the music and dance from two continents.

When: On the full moon day in the sixth and the eleventh months (October 2017) of the Thai lunar calendar. The festival is over 3 days and nights.

Where: Phuket, Lanta Island & Krabi

Sea Gypsies The islands and coastal regions along the Andaman Sea are home to a unique group of people, who due to their maritime nomadic way of life are known in Thai as the Chao Lay, (people of the sea) or Chao nam (people of the water) and in English as sea nomads or sea gypsies.

The ceremonies center around the setting adrift of small model boats, (thought to represent the craft the people once used on their migration north). The launching of these intricately carved vessels bearing candles and tokens from the people is held at night, their purpose is to drive away evil and bring good luck, and it’s also believed that the boat will float back to their ancestral home at Gunung Jerai.

The three day and night ceremony also includes ancestor and spirit worshipping, fortune telling by the local Shaman, music performances and dances, including the Rong Ngeng dance. The dance is considered to be an innovation combining both Western and Eastern forms — Western footsteps with Eastern hand movements.

For more on this festival click here

 

 

Um Pra Dam Nam Festival

October Events across Thailand Um Pra Dam Nam Festival

The Legend of the wandering statue, who’s habit is to find its way back to the river

When: 5 – 6th October 2017
Where:  Around Wat Trai Phum, Phetchabun Town. Northern Thailand

Um Pra Dam Nam is a centuries old religious festival which is held annually on the full moon of the eleventh Thai lunar month, when the people of the Kingdom, take to their streets, water ways and seaboard, in joyful celebration, to commemorate the festival of Wan Ok Phansawhich 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)

The name loosely translated means “Dive the Buddha Image into the Water” The image in question is the ancient bejewelled Buddha image of ‘Phra Buddha Maha Thammaracha,’ which is believed to be from the Khmer period 802–1431 and is cast in the Lop Buri style. The festival was known by its full name prior to 1985 that of,  ‘Pra Pea Ni Sat Thai Wat Trai Phum’ or the equally memorable ‘Pra Pea Ni Phra Put Tha Rup Song Nam’, thankfully for those of us less than comfortable with the Thai language, the name is a more manageable Um Pra Dam Nam.

While the statues earlier history is cloaked in mystery there is a local legend that surrounds it; the image was first found in the Pah Sak River some 400 years ago and was then taken to be housed at Wat Trai Phum (built in 1557). Magically the statue has disappeared twice from the temple only to found later back in the waters of the Pah Sak River. It is said that the Buddha image, miraculously wandered out of the temple by itself to return to the water. To appease the Buddha Image this colourful and spiritual ritual of the bathing ceremony is held every year, to co-inside with the end of Buddhist Lent and the return of Buddha.

For more on this unique festival click here

 

 

Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival & Long Boat Racing 

October Events across Thailand Wax Castle Festival & Long Boat Racing

When: 13th – 16th October 2016 (Believed 3 -6th October 2017)

Where: Sakon Nakhon Province Northeast Thailand

The festival is one of the largest in the Kingdom, falling as it does on the 12th-15th day of waxing moon in October which coincides with the end of Buddhist Lent Wan Ok Phansa (Thai: วันออกพรรษา; literally “the Final Day of the Vassa“) which is on the 16th October 2016. The Wax Castle Festival procession is only on the 14th October but the wax sculptures can be viewed in all their glory the day prior at Ming Mueng sakonnakhon park.

Wax Castle

Local Thai sculptors mould and carve bees wax into miniature Buddhist temples and shrines, (wax castles) in order to gain merit, which is believed will determine their future rebirth. Local people also believe that the wax will welcome Lord Buddha, who comes back from the heaven to help all creatures on earth.

Originally, beeswax was given to the monks so as they could make their own candles and light the temples, from this gift the monks moulded and carved the wax into different kinds of flowers and attached them to banana tree trunks, which would in turn be offered to the temples. Gradually over time the offerings became more sophisticated and moulded sculptures were developed into many different shapes, such as castles, temples and shrines. These magnificent and at times massive wax sculptures, are paraded around the city to illustrate the skill of their creators. If you visit the temples in advance of the festival you may be lucky to see the sculptors actually work on these intricate and beautiful works of art.

For more on this Festival click here

 

 

Tak Bat Devo Festival 

October Events across Thailand Tak Bat Devo Festival 2016

 

A colourful and auspicious re-enactment of Buddha’s return to earth

When: 5th October 2017 (TBC)

Where: Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri on the top of Sakaekrang Mountain. Uthai Thani Province

The Tak Bat Devo Festival (translated as ‘offering food to Buddhist Monks’) commemorates Won Ok Phansa Day, which is possibly the most important religious day in the Thai calendar and celebrates the return of Lord Buddha from heaven. The event is a portrayal of his descent from heaven and an imitation of the scenes when he was greeted by his followers and disciples.

This ancient depiction of this most auspicious time in usually only held in the Central Provinces and usually held on high ground emphasizing the descent from heaven, the largest Festival is possibly that of Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri on the top of Sakaekrang Mountain.

On the day of the festival over 500 Thai Buddhist Monks, will leave from the pavilion that is at located at the pinnacle of the temple and descend the 449 steps in single file to receive offerings of a variety of food and fruit, from both local residents and visitors who travel from all over the Kingdom to witness this annual spectacular ceremony.

For More on this festival click here

 

 

Singburi Royal Trophy Long- Boat Races

 

 

When: Early October

Where: The Noi River (in front of Wat Klang Tha Kham). Khai Ban Rachan District. Sing Buri Province Central Thailand approx. 130 kms North of Bangkok

 The winning teams will receive HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Trophies. There are 3 categories from the large 55 crew craft, to the smaller but equally impressive 30 oarsmen down to the nippy 12 crew mini boats. There will be a variety of other contests and performances featuring the unique heritage of the local people.

Contact Details: Pho Sangkho City Municipality Tel. +66 3653 5509: TAT Lopburi Office Tel. +66 3642 2768-9

 

Chong Para Festival 

October Events across Thailand Chong Para Festival 2016

For the Shan people of North West Thailand this is a time of harmony and thanks giving and to embrace their own deep cultural past

When: 6th October 2017 (TBC)

Where: Mae Hong Son province. North West Thailand

Wan Ok Phansa is the last day of the Thai observance of Vassa. The end of the Thai Buddhist Lent is held annually dependent on the Thai Lunar calendar and is a public holiday. The day is marked by ceremonies and religious activities throughout Thailand.  With Thailand’s huge ethnic diversity,  there are umpteen regional different and unique festivals.

The Tai Yai people of Thailand (originally from the Shan state in Burma), who now live predominantly in Mae Hong Son province in North West Thailand, celebrate this day with the spiritual and colourful Chong Para Ceremony.

The event centers around traditionally built, wooden castles and banana shoots, which once lavishly decorated, are carried on what can be loosely termed as two man stretchers, with the larger creations placed on mobile floats.

These towers are known as ‘Chong’ in the Tai Yai dialect with ‘Para’ meaning Buddha image. The elaborate and intricate castles are decorate with colourful paper and illuminate with lanterns, to humbly welcome the Lord Buddha back to earth.

For more on this festival click here

 

 

Phon Lak Phra Festival or khaeng poen larg pra (แข่งโพนลากพระ)

 October Events across Thailand Phon Lak Phra Festival or khaeng poen larg pra (แข่งโพนลากพระ)

A southern festival that drums up competition between temples

When: 5 – 6th October 2017

Where: The Provincial Hall and Saen suk lam pam Beach Amphoe Muang Phatthalung Province Southern Thailand

Thailand is awash with festivals at this time of year as the Kingdom celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent; Wan Khao Phansa (5th October 2017). It’s possibly the most important religious day in the Thai calendar, celebrating as it does the return of Lord Buddha, after he spent time preaching to His Mother in the Tavatimsa Heaven.

For the people of this southern province it is a time to pray and play as it holds it’s most important annual event to commemorate Wan Ok Phansa Day.

Barrel Drums

Prior to 1988 each of this provinces many temples would relay to its followers that the three month period of lent had finished, by setting out decorated pedestals, lighting incense and by beating a poen (โพน), a southern musical instrument shaped like a barrel drum. Each temple would then form its own procession accompanied, by its own drum beaters and its very own Buddha image.

When two processions meet, they would offer a friendly challenge on who could knock out the best tune; this tradition has evolved to become a grand festival of Phatthalung, where the majority of temples will parade their own drummers in one grand procession

For more on this festival click here

 

 

Fire Boat Procession Nakhon Phanom

October Events across Thailand Fire Boat Procession Nakhon Phanom

A centuries old festival that just gets better with age

When: 28th Sptember to 6th October 2017

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.

Fire Boats

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.

For more on this festival click here

 

 

Kek River Rafting Festival

 

When: 1 July – 31 October 2017

Where: Phitsanulok. North Central Thailand Bordering Laos

Last year the same festival took on the name Kaengsong coffee tasting and Kek river white water rafting festival, to raise awareness of Phitsanulok as the home of ‘Kaengsong’ arabica coffee, also to promote the Khek River as the country’s premier white water rafting river.

The river still remains one of the top-five white water rafting routes in Thailand, especially during the rainy season which lasts from May to October. The route covers a distance of 8 km along the scenic view and it takes about 2-3 hours to navigate.

This river has many steep turns and thrilling rapids to keep adrenaline levels up. The higher water levels during the rainy season can promise moderate to extreme level of excitement and adventure – a must for any rafting enthusiast.

 

Chak Phra Festival 

 

October Events across Thailand Chak Phra Festival 2016

A brilliant and colourful festival where you are not hemmed in by hordes of tourists

When: 5th October 2017

Where: Tapi River Surat Thani Province Southern Thailand

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, 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)

The ceremony of “Phum Pha Pa”

As is the custom after Lent, Buddhist monks who have been confined to their monasteries for three months, are given offerings (alms) by the local people of essential personal items such as candles, soap, shaving goods etc. along with food and new robes (during the kathin ceremony).

Surat Thani has its own unique version of this ceremony, called “Phum Pha Pa” which sees the local people hanging their offerings on tree branches in front of houses, schools and offices the night before Won Ok Phansa. The hanging of offerings is a celebration all of its own, with locals attentively decorating the whole town with beautifully-packed alms as well as lights and paintings depicting the life story of Buddha.

For more on this festival and the history of alms giving, click here

 

Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (ประเพณีเทศกาลเดือนสิบ)

October Events across Thailand Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month

A Thai festival to welcome the dead that has been influenced by the Hindu festival of Sarda

When: Annualy on the 1st waning-moon night to the 15th waning-moon night in the 10th Lunar month (16 – 25 September 2017)

Where: Nakhon Si Thammarat. Southern Thailand

This ancient festival (also known as the Bun Festival and Red Cross Fair or Tham Bun Duean Sip งานเทศกาลทำบุญเดือนสิบ), is a thanks giving custom and is a time for the Thai people of this province, to make merit and give offerings to the monks, spirits such as the Rice Goddess Mae Posop and deceased relatives.

While this time of the year, prior to the new harvest is celebrated across the country and goes by many different names, here in the southern provinces the event is regarded as one of the most important festivals of the year, no more so than in Nakhon Si Thammarat. where the tradition has evolved into possibly the biggest festival of its kind in the Kingdom.

For more on the festival, snatching demons and including similarities with other events across the Kingdom, click here

 

Thailand & Laos jointly host the annual Boat Race event on the Mekong River

October Events across Thailand Thailand & Laos jointly host the annual Boat Race event on the Mekong River Thailand's Longboat races

 

When: 13 – 16 October 2016 (2017 TBC)

Where: Mekong River, in front of Indochina market, Mukdahan Province North-eastern Thailand.

Experience the traditional end of the Thai Buddhist Lent Period; Tee Chang Nam Nong ceremony and the worshiping of the Goddess of the Mekong River.  Immerse yourself by watching local performances by the 8 Thai, Laos and Vietnamese tribes of the Mukdahan Province, plus witness a breath-taking amount of Long Boat races between the people of both Thailand and Lao.

If you are fortunate enough to visit the province during the festival you may want to call in on the neighbouring province of Nakhon Phanom and feast your eyes on spectactular annual Fire Boat Procession  held around the same time in October and which also celebrates  the end of the Thai Buddhist Lent

Contact Details: Mukdahan City Municipality Tel. +66 4261 1027 TAT Call Centre Tel. 1672

 

Thailand’s Walking Dead – Festival of Offerings to the Dead (Sart Thai) วันสาทรไทย

October Events across Thailand Festival of Offerings to the Dead (Sart Thai) วันสาทรไทย

 

When: Annualy around the 1st waning-moon night to the 15th waning-moon night in the 10th Lunar month (19th Oct 2017)

Where: Across the Kingdom

Offering food to the dead is a common practice in Asia, while not widely known out-side of Thailand and at times confused with the more famous Chinese ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’, (known to Thai’s as the Por Tor Festival), this purely Thai occasion is celebrated across the Kingdom, but is known by different names in the differing provinces.

Sart Thai also known as Sat Thai

For centuries this time of year is when the crops are at their most bountiful, it is also when families come together, to celebrate the return of the deceased to this world, so they can feast with their living relatives. These wondering spirits are only allowed to visit their relatives once each year and only for a short while, having to return to from where they came, before sunrise of the 15th day.

To feed their dead relatives and other spirits that they are not related to, Thai people will visit their local temple to make Merit and will invite these spirits to dine with them in their homes.

The Thai people have a strong belief in ghosts and the spirit world, especially in ‘Preta’ also known as Praet, Peta or a “Hungry ghost”, who are one of the six modes of existence in the Buddhist ‘Wheel of Life’. Hungry ghosts or ‘Preta’ – ‘departed ones’ in Hindu language of Sanskrit, are pitiable creatures with huge, empty stomachs and pinhole mouths; their necks are so thin they cannot swallow, so they remain hungry. It is believed that people are reborn as hungry ghosts because of their greed, envy and jealousy in their prior life.

For more on this festival, what food is given and why, plus other names and details on the the festival, as it is known across the Kingdom, click here

 

Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races

October Events across Thailand Nan boat races 2016

 

Possibly the biggest Longboat racing festival in Thailand, that at its heart is to remind people of an ancient lost Kingdom

When: 16th October 2016 (Possibly 5th Oct 2017)

Where: Nan River, Nan province Northern Thailand

This is possibly the Kingdoms biggest Longboat festival with usually around 200 boats competing, from over 100 communities. Each boat can accommodate up to 60 oarsmen, dressed in their individual racing teams uniform, in a double row, this dazzling array makes for an explosion of colour.

The equally colourful-painted boats, are made from whole tree trunks and adorned at the prow, with elaborately-crafted naga heads, which are once again united with the Nan River in this annual event. The event is a poignant reminder of the history of the once ancient Northern Kingdom of Lanna. The vivid colours and noise from the crowds makes for a fun filled, gloriously colourful, spectacle.

For more on the festival, including dates of both parts of the event, other major longboat festivals, a brief history of the Nan people and its city state click here

 

San Don Ta Festival

October Events across Thailand San Don Ta Festival

A beautiful tradition that embodies the people of the region, their centuries of contact with their Cambodian neighbours and a time to remember those lost in the Killing Fields

When: 19 – 21 September  2017

Where: Phraya Krai Phakdi Sinakorn Lamduan Park in Khu Khan District, Si Sa Ket Province Eastern Thailand

The two day festival of San Don Ta is a time when the Khmer descendants of this province, pay homage to their dead ancestors. The Festival is known as ‘Ancestors’ Day (Pchum Ben)’ or the Khmer Festival of the Dead, in neighbouring Cambodia.

This annual event is actually the culmination of a fifteen-day observance called Dak Ben, throughout which Khmer people are encouraged to visit at least seven pagodas, to make offerings to dead ancestors and light candles to guide the spirits of the dead to these offerings.

The first fourteen days are called Kan Ben (“observed celebration”); the 15th day is called Brochum Ben or Pchum Ben Day. During Kan Ben, people give Buddhist monks gifts of food and candles. At night Buddhist monks recite a protective prayer; it is possibly the biggest annual event on the Khmer calendar

For More on the Festival, the food that is offered, the ghosts that play their part and similarities in other festivals across the Kingdom, click here

 

 Wan Ok Phansa Festival 

 

October Events across Thailand Wan Ok Phansa Festival

 

The end of Buddhist Lent when the people of this magical Kingdom both pray and play

When: 5th October 2017

Where: Across the Kingdom of Thailand

This day 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. The day falls annually on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month and is the Kingdoms most important Buddhist event.

The day is full of joyful celebration and merit-making, for many families it is also the day they welcome back a son into the home and for them to celebrate his successful completion of a term in the temple.

For more on this eagerly awaited time of year click here

 

Chumphon Traditional Boat Races

 October Events across Thailand Thailand's Longboat races Chumphon

 

When: 17 – 21 October 2016 (2017 TBC)

Where: Mae Nam Lang Suan (Lang Suan River), about 60km south of  Chumphon. Southern Thailand

The Chumphon traditional boat race is an annual event held at the end of the Buddhist Lent (23rd October 2016) and is unlike most other of the events in the Kingdom. While the winners of other traditional Thai long-boat races are decided by the teams that cross the finishing line first, here the contestants  face an additional challenge, to be declared the winner of the Chumphon boat race, a member of the crew also has to climb up the bow and grasp their own marker flag.

Activities include the presentation of merit-making offerings, contests that draw attention to the various aspects of the hand-crafted traditional long-boats and cheerleading contests.

Contact Details: Tourism Authority of Thailand Chumphon Office Tel: +66 (0) 7755 6190-1 E-mail: tatchumphon@tat.or.th

 

Raptor Watching Festival

October Events across Thailand Raptor Watching Festival 2016

 

When: October 2017

Where: Chumphon Southern Thailand

Around October every year, when winter encroaches into the northern hemisphere, birds of various species will flee the cold and head for warmer climates, with many choosing to use the Malay Peninsula as a land bridge to their normal nesting and hunting grounds. It is estimated that during the period, Chumphon will see more than 200,000 migrating raptors soaring majestically in its mountainous areas, including; Chinese goshawk, Japanese goshawk, grey-faced buzzard, oriental honey buzzard and the black baza, Many of these same birds of prey will continue their annual migration into Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and even as far as Australia

Such natural phenomenon always captivates bird-watching enthusiasts, and makes Chumphon one of the most important learning centers on migrating birds in Southeast Asia. To mark this special event, Chumphon Provincial Authorities is organising the Migrating Raptors Watching Festival 2016, to boost local people’s understanding of birds of prey and raise public awareness of the importance of environmental protection.

There is a grand opening ceremony is set to take place on 4 October at 10:00 hrs. at the Chumphon Migrating Raptors Learning Centre, Khao Dinso.

 

Sat Thai – Kluai Khai Fair

October Events across Thailand Sat Thai - Kluai Khai Fair 2016

When the people of this little known province celebrate the return of the dead with the humble banana

When: 16 – 25th October 2016 (5th – 14th Oct 2017 TBC)

Where: Kamphaeng Phet North Central Thailand

This is possibly one of the Kingdoms least known provinces, sitting as it does in upper Central Thailand, its name literally means the “diamond wall” and refers to the city’s ancient defenses. Apart from its past defense of the Sukhothai Kingdom, the province is famous for a small, round, sweet and aromatic banana variety called “egg bananas” (Thai: kluai khai or mini banana).

This annual event is a celebration of this locally grown fruit, the end of Buddhist Lent and the nationwide celebration of Sat Thai, it features a number of banana contests and competitions on the making of Krayasat. The desert (Thai: กระยาสารท; food for the Sat Rite), is normally prepared for Buddhist religious events and is most commonly served during the Festival of Offerings to the Dead, or Sat Rite.

For more on the festival click here

 

Long-tailed Boat Competition in Nakhon Sawan

October Events across Thailand Nakon Sawan Thailand's Longboat races

 

When: Annually  around 5th October 2017 (Dates TBA)

Where: Chao Phraya River, Nakhon Sawan. Central Thailand

The province of Nakhon Sawan is 2 h 59 min (244.0 km) north of Bangkok, the name of the province literally means city heaven or heavenly city and has been around for roughly 14 centuries.

While this particular event has not been in existence for this whole time, long boat racing has an ancient history with the province. This particular event is also known as ‘Boat Races for His Majesty’s Trophy’ (ประเพณีการแข่งเรือยาวชิงถ้วยพระราชทาน), which are held annually at the end of the Buddhist Lent (5th October 2017) on the Chao Phraya River in front of the Provincial Hall. There are also races at temples along the river such as Wat Ko Hong and Wat Takhian Luan.

Contact Details : Tourism and Sports Department of Nakornsawan Tel. (66) 5622 8735, (66) 5622 8552

 

Pattaya Vegetarian Festival

October Events across Thailand Pattaya Vegetarian Festival

 

While not on the scale and without the blood-letting of the better known Phuket festival this is still a colourful fun filled time for the local people and all those that want to join in

When: 20 – 28th October 2017

Where: Sawang Boriboon Foundation, Nakula, Chonburi. Central Thailand

Vegetarian festivals have a long tradition in Thailand and are believed to be based on the Chinese ‘Emperor Gods Festival’. Those that ‘spiritually’ celebrate the day will leave their daily businesses aside, (it is not a public holiday in the Kingdom) and visit temples dressed all in white, carrying candles and flowers to make merit. The festival is seen as a chance to cleanse the body and to refrain from any acts that would lead to the taking of lives.

For more on the festival the route of the parades etc click here

 

 

 

 

Rafting in Pai River

october Festivals in Thailand Pai-River-rafting

 

When: 1 July – 31 December 2017

Where:  Pai River Mae Hong Son Northern Thailand

Thailand has a number of provinces which can offer the thrill seeker the chance to take what would seem to most as a hair raising fall into the unknown. Rapids on the river vary from class I to class V on the International Scale of River Difficulty and everything in between, along distance of 50 kilometers. The Pai River offers a scenic view of mountain forest and many choose to camp along the quiet river banks.

 

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

October Events across Thailand Phuket Vegetarian Festival

 

Where the act of blood-letting is accompanied by the deafening noise of exploding gun powder

When: 20th – 29th October 2017

Where: In and around Phuket Town. Phuket. Southern Thailand

Vegetarian festivals have a long tradition in Thailand and are believed to be based on the Chinese ‘Nine Emperor Gods Festival’. This year’s festival starts and finishes as always with the same ritual when in the late afternoon of the first day “go teng lantern poles” are raised at the participating Chinese shrines. The nine Chinese gods are said to descend down the poles into the shrines, the same gods are then able to ascend the same poles before they are removed on the last night of the festival.

The activities in most parts of the Kingdom are not on the scale of Phuket where the festivities encompasses more unusual rituals. In this event religious devotees will perform ritualized mutilation upon themselves and one another, while under a trance-like state, including but not limited to: impaling through cheeks, arms, face, legs, back etc. With everything from small needles to long swords and other objects such as fire arms and umbrella’s, in fact the size of the item is only restricted to the ability of the pieced person to carry the object.

For more on the festival click here

 

Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival 

October Events across Thailand Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival 2016

 

Where beer and eggs are used to coax the animals and fiery rum is used to sooth the riders bumps and bruises

When: 28th Sept – 4th October 2017 (Race Day 4 October)

Where: Chonburi city hall Chonburi Central/Eastern Thailand

The world famous Chonburi Buffalo Races – Wing Kwai are a fantastic, colourful celebration of these mighty if some-what stupid beasts of burden. Did you know that Thai’s will refer to stupid people unkindly as a ‘Buffalo’ – Khway ควาย? The two week eagerly awaited festival, is closely associated with the end of Buddhist Lent, with the exact date of the festival varying from year to year. As with most festivals in the Kingdom the exact dates are dictated by the Thai Lunar calendar.

Organised buffalo racing has been an event in Chonburi (the name means ‘City of Water’) for more than 140 years, it is believed that racing of these several ton hurtling mountains of beef, has been going on, informally for several hundred years prior to this.

To be fair to the Buffalos they are separated into three different sizes, large, medium and small, all races are run over the same 100 metre track in both rain and shine, with the track perfectly located right in front of the Chonburi city hall. The jockey’s job in this mayhem is to coax the most out of their animals and to try to get their beast to go in a straight line, as fast as possible.

To do so they sit almost on the haunches of the buffalo, clinging to the charging animal with only one hand and the strength in their knees, while the other hand wield’s a stick to encourage the beast to go in the right direction. The speed these ungainly animals reach is quite frightening and it is not unusual for riders to become dislodged in their attempt to be the winning jockey.

For more on this Festival click here

 

Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance and Music

 

When:  September 11th – October 19th 2017

Where: Thailand Cultural Center, Bangkok

Bangkok’s 19th International Festival of Dance and Music is as always is a star-studded delight filled to the brink with a whole range of genres. It is a festival that once again reaffirms Bangkok’s place as a cultural capital. The program includes classical concerts, operas, classical ballets, contemporary and folk dances, jazz and the occasional less common genres of music and dance.

See more at ticketmajor.com

 

 

Luang Wiang Lakhon Fair

October Events across Thailand Luang Wiang Lakhon Fair sound and light show

An ancient Lanna festival that Celebrates the return of Buddha and the end of Lent

When: Prior to 5th Oct 2017: TBC

Where: Wat Prathat Lampang Luang, Lampang Northern Thailand

Luang Wiang Lakhon Fair (งานหลวงเวียงละคอน) is held just prior to the end of Buddhist Lent, in the first month of the Lanna calendar (Lanna -“Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields”). It is a celebration of both the Buddha’s return after preaching to his mother in heaven, and the day when the Buddhist Monks can again leave their monasteries, after their 3 months self imposed exile of Wan Khao Phansa.

The event also has its roots in the Buddhist festival of Kathina, where it is a time of giving and for the laity to express gratitude to the bhikkhus (Buddhist monks). In this festival Lay Buddhists bring alms to temples, including all manner of things the monks will require in their daily lives e.g. food, soap, candles, cooking utensils and especially new robes.

he Luang Wiang Lakhon Fair features a wonderfully, colourful procession, with local people dressed in native attire, carrying all manner of traditional household appliances, some of which are very old indeed, plus a range of food dishes for the monks, all of which will be donated to the monks, (excluding the antiquated utensils). The event also includes an evening Light and Sound production, which features dance and music performances that highlight the ancient history of both the province and its people. Through-out the day there will be a number of cultural demonstrations along with a host of stalls selling all manner of local produce and handicraft.

For more on this festival click Here

 

Kaeng Hin Phoeng White-water Rafting Festival

October Events across Thailand Kaeng Hin Phoeng White-water Rafting Festival

 

When: 1 June – 31 October 2017

Where: Kaeng Hin Phoeng, Prachinburi Eastern Thailand

White-water Rafting at Kaeng Hin Phoeng Festival is an annual event and during the rainy season, the water level is practically high, providing a faster flow, cleaner rapids, and generally less hazardous conditions. Through-out the event, there are a number of rafting competition.

 

The Royal Project Market at Siam Paragon

October Festivals in Thailand The Royal Project Market 2016 at Siam Paragon

 

When: 22-26 September, 2016 (2017 TBC)
Where: Parc Paragon, Siam Paragon, Bangkok

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is proud to invite Thais and foreign tourists to taste, try, and buy fresh and processed organic products from the Royal Projects in the country’s northern highlands which will be on sale at Siam Paragon, during the Royal Project Market.

Fair goers can shop for agricultural produces at the market such as portobello and lingzhi mushrooms, avocados, pears, mangoes, beans and rice, coffee and tea as well as processed foods and ready-to-drink fruit juices which were brought to Bangkok to sell directly to city dwellers, so buyers can ensure to receive high quality products, fresh from the farm.

The Royal Project was initiated by  His Late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1969 with the aim to develop high-altitude, cold-climate crops and prevent slash-and-burn agriculture, deforestation and the cultivation of narcotic plants in the Northern provinces. Several royal projects developments has been introduced throughout the northern region ever since.

Today, there are 38 Royal Project Development Centres spread over Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun and Phayao provinces. Chiang Mai alone has more than 20 sites and these serve as living museums for anyone interested in learning about sustainable alternative living and how poverty can be alleviated.

The products from Royal Project bears witness to the success of the Royal Project Foundation’s extensive study, research and experimentation in bringing sustainable development for local people in each area.

For those interested to know more, there will also be exhibitions for everyone can learn about the Royal Project initiatives across Thailand.

Learn more about the Royal Project Foundation at www.RoyalProjectThailand.com

 

Hae Krathup Tradition

October Events across Thailand Hae Krathup Tradition

An ancient tradition of Northeast Thailand that celebrates the Buddha’s return and is also known as the light incense Festival

When: 13 – 16 October 2016 (2017 Prior to 5th Oct: TBC)

Where: Nong Bua Daeng District Office, Chaiyaphum Northeast Thailand

The annual Hae Krathup Tradition, (งานประเพณีโฮมบุญ ออกพรรษา “แหกระธ  ูป”) also known as the light Incense Festival, is a three day event, unique to the area and which takes place annually prior to the end of Buddhist lent; Wan Ok Phansa. This is the time of the year, when Thai Buddhist monks are again able to wander freely, after spending the previous 3 months confined to their monasteries, during the period of Wan Khao Phansa.

Won Ok Phansa Day (16th October 2016), is possibly the most important religious day in the Thai calendar; it celebrates the return of Lord Buddha, after he spent time preaching to His Mother in the Tavatimsa Heaven. This event is in part a portrayal of his descent from heaven and an imitation, of the scenes when he was greeted by his followers and disciples.

The Krathup is a symbolic reference to the Buddhist “island” or “continent” of the terrestrial world and the gigantic Jambu tree, that lays at its center; Jambudvipa.

The Krathup, come in all manner of sizes and shapes, reaching a height of around 3-6 meters. They traditionally have a center spire made from bamboo to which is added further spars and cross beams, from these beams a vast assortment of both plain and decorative coloured paper garlands are hung, these at times immense structures, also contain decorations of intricately folded palm leafs.

The whole structure is then added, to a brightly decorated float, featuring more colourful garlands, along with equally dazzling cloth and at times flowers and plants. The completed Krathup are on display through-out the day and night, where they take on a new life bathed in an eerie glow from the candles carried by many of the onlookers and the small lamps, that are amassed around the feet of the structures.

For more on the festival click here

 

Phra Samut Chedi Fair

October Events across Thailand Phra Samut Chedi Fair

Believed to be the largest & longest running temple fair in the Kingdom, but as yet thankfully, not invaded by hordes of tourists.

When: 21st October 2016 (2017 TBC)

Where: City of Samut Prakarn. Samut Prakarn Province. 30 Kms southwest of Bangkok

This hugely popular annual fair, is held in the city of Samut Prakarn (the city has the same name as the province and is also known by local people ‘Pak Nam’ Thai for ‘Mouth of a River’), it attracts thousands of people from all around the country, who come to join in the fun and to pay homage to the Phra Samut Chedi (Chedi is an alternative term for a Buddhist stupa). The Phra Samut Chedi Fair goes on for 9 days and nights, starting from the 5th day of the waning moon of the 11th lunar month and is believed to be the largest and longest running temple fair in the Kingdom.

Phra Samut Chedi was originally built on a small island in the Chao Phraya River in 1827, it was designed to be the first significant sight for visitors coming to Bangkok by boat. It is said that King Rama II wanted all foreigners entering Thailand to know that the Thai people were Buddhists. The temple is also known as Wat Klang Nam, (วัดกลางน้ำ, ‘Temple in the middle of the water’). Over time the river has silted with the result that the island is now part of the main land located on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River.

For more on this festival, the significance of the new red cloth and how to get there, click here

 

 

Lotus Flower Festival (ประเพณีรับบัวหรือโยนบัว)

October Events across Thailand Lotus Flower Festival (ประเพณีรับบัวหรือโยนบัว)

 

A unique local festival with a long tradition believed to have dated from as early as 1498

When: 5th October 2017

Where: Bang Phli District, Samut Prakan Province South of Bangkok. Central Thailand

Bang Phli (Bang Phli can translate as The Village of Offerings), is famous for the delighful Lotus Flower Festival (Rap Bua or Yon Bua), which takes place annually on the last day of Buddhist Lent, the fourteenth day of the waxing moon in the eleventh lunar month, the same day is celebrated across the Kingdom as the Wan Ok Phansa Festival.

This unique local festival is a very colourful and spiritual event, with a long tradition believed to have dated from as early as 1498, having been introduced by the Mon people, who fled persecution in their own home land in Burma and who once ruled these lands, from their city state at Nakhon Pathom (85 kms west of Bang Phli).

While this is a three day event, the main feature of the festival is the respect and reverence shown to the replica image of ‘Luang Pho Toh’ Buddha which is first paraded on land through the town, finishing on the water in an elaborate floating procession that gets underway by 07:00 on the final day and features intricately decorated wooden boats rowed by local people in traditional Thai costumes.

For more on this festival, the legend of  ‘Luang Pho Toh’ and what else to see and do locally click here

 

Celebrating Halloween in Thailand

October Events across Thailand Halloween in Thailand

 

When: 31st October annually

Where: Throughout the more touristy areas of Thailand

Halloween in ThailandWhile many more western countries are celebrating the yearly (and now almost wholly commercialized) event that is Halloween, here in Thailand outside of the more touristy areas, it is pretty much little understood and therefore pretty much ignored.

The reason Thai’s in general ignore Halloween, is in part due to the fact that we hold our own unique festivals in September and October, to celebrate the dead returning to this world, listed here are details on the biggest across the Kingdom including; where, when and what they entail.

Reverence for the dead is common practice in Asia and the multitude of peoples that make up the rich tapestry of Thailand also have their own unique festivals to celebrate family returning to this realm once a year, to see more click here

 

With all these festivals celebrating the dead and the Buddhist beliefs in re-incarnation, it is easy to see why Halloween is not a big thing here in the Kingdom

 

 

 

Moon Festival – Moon Cake Festival

While the Moon Festival – Moon Cake Festival originates from China the event is celebrated through-out Thailand’s Chinese communities.The Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, takes place at the full moon of the eighth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is when the moon is said to be at its fullest and roundest – the so-called harvest moon and marks the end of the harvest period when family and friends gather to celebrate a time of plenty.

The ancient Chinese believed in rejuvenation being associated with the moon and water.

When: 4th October 2017

Where: Across Thailand

According to traditional Chinese legend, a beautiful girl named Chang E worked in the Jade Emperor’s palace in the kingdom of heaven, an idyllic place where people lived and worked amongst the immortals. One day Chang E angered the Jade Emperor (not known for forgiveness) when she accidentally broke a porcelain jar, and in his anger he banished her to Earth.

In China it is counted as one of their 3 main annual festivals, the others being The Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival.

For more on the legend of Chang E and moon cakes Moon Festival – Moon Cake Festival.

 

 

Paying Respect to 9 Shrines and Samut Sakhon Vegetarian Festival

Paying Respect to 9 Shrines and Samut Sakhon Vegetarian Festival

Pic Curtsy TAT

When: 30 Sep – 9 Oct 2017

Where: City Pillar Shrine and shrines around the city of Samut Sakhon. Central Thailand

This annual colourful event is both a celebration of the City Pillar and other major shrines found in the province plus the locally produced agricultural produce.

Other shrines include: Pun Thao Kong Shrine in Mahachai Canal, 1000-hand Guan Yin Shrine in Chak Canal, Jui Bui Nia Shrine, Cheng Heang Tuo Vegetarian House, Guan Yu shrine, Pun Thao Kong Shrine in Tha Chalom, Phra Phothisat Guan Yin in Tha Chalom.

 

 

Naga Fireball Festival

A photo reportedly depicting Naga fireballs from Wikepedia

When: 5th October 2017

Where: Nong Khai Province. Northeast Thailand.

Each year around the end of Buddhist Lent, along a stretch of the Mekong River, close to a sand bar which looks vaguely similar to a scaly Naga, you can with luck and only after sunset witness the strange Naga Fireballs.

These glowing orbs naturally rise from the water and are said to be reddish in colour and to range in size from smaller sparkles up to the size of basketballs. These strange balls of light reportedly quickly rise up from the river to a couple of hundred metres, hang there for a few seconds before mysteriously disappearing into the night’s sky. There is no sound, no smoke, and no fragments from the fireballs have ever been retrieved.

 

Local Beliefs of Naga Fireballs

The number of fireballs reported over the many years varies between tens and thousands per night and have been explained as all many of conjecture; from  plasma physics: A free-floating plasma orb to a result of flammable phosphine gas generated by the marshy environment, to Laotian soldiers firing tracer rounds into the air across the river.

Whatever the real reason for this annual display, Thai people in the northeast, especially in the provinces of the Mekong river, have believed for generations that the River was the route of the Naga King “Pu Chao Sri Sutho”, who crawled around the mountains and who still resides deep beneath, the Mekong River in the underwater city of Muang Badan.

For more on this and the local legend that surrounds them see our post Unexplained Fireballs of the Mekong River

 

 

 

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