February 18, 2016
Garland Festival (Malai Khao Tok งานประเพณีแห่มาลัย)
When: Annually the day prior to the national Makha Puja Day (Makha Bucha Day) 11th February 2017
Where: Maha Chana Chai District Yasothon Province Northeastern Thailand
While the province is better known for its Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival this little known festival is a fun filled occasion. Malai Khao Tok refers to a series of long lengths of strings which are decorated with popped rice (Khao Tok means popped rice), along with colourful hand-made flowers and beads to produce beautifully decorated hanging garlands. The popped rice garlands or Malai Khao Tok represent the celestial flowers and are offerings to the Buddha on Magha Puja Day.
Using popped rice and flowers as a form of paying respect to Buddha has been practiced for centuries, where previously both were scattered during the ceremony, here in this Isaan province they are combined to make garlands which hang from poles and at times the roofs of miniature Wat’s.
These mobile displays are then either carried by hand on the end of long poles or carried on decorated floats, both are then paraded around the town in a carnival atmosphere, accompanied with traditional Isaan dancers and bands. Mingled among this sea of people, are large paper mache puppets depicting humans. The procession finally comes to a halt, to present all the garlands to the monks at Wat Ho Kong. The monks will later use the garlands, to decorate the sermon hall as a way to pay homage to the Buddha, on the next day’s religious ceremony of Makha Puja Day (Makha Bucha Day)
During the evening there are a number of cultural performances showcasing the unique Isaan way of life.
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