March 3, 2015
Tha Uthen Pagoda Festival 2015 – Where dance and music meet faith and tranquility
When: 1st March – 4th March
Where: Tha Uthen district. Nakhon Phanom City; 734 km northeast of Bangkok and 378 km southwest of Hanoi, Vietnam.
How to get there: See more
This annual celebration of the much-revered Tha Uthen Pagoda begins on the Sunday 1st March and finishes on Makha Bucha Day the 4th March 2015. It is a time for Buddhists to visit the district to pay respect to the pagoda and make merit to help preserve what is a long-held tradition. The pagoda was originally built in 1912 and is believed to contain Lord Buddha’s relic.
Around the pagoda during the festivities will be a vibrant mass of colour and music from various native dancers from across this North Eastern province, with male and female dancers performing their unique cultural dances accompanied by their equally unique musicians. The performances include the traditional Phu Thai Dance (การฟ้อนผู้ไทย) the dance of the Phu Thai people and the “pestle dance” Saek Ten Sak (ประเพณีแสกดต้นสาก) of the even smaller ‘Saek’ ethnic group living in ‘At Samat Village’, 4 km from Nakhon Phanom.
The later dance is performed to please the spirits, annually on the 3rd day of the waxing moon of the 3rd lunar month (23rd March 2015) For the dance to be performed in another period, permission must be granted by the spiritual leader by offering a pigs head, 20-baht cash, and liquor, the spiritual leader must pick up a predictive coloured stick from a pile of similar sticks, If the leader picks up a stick of the same colour, it means the spirit will not allow the dancers to perform what is a colourful and fast dance set to the rhythm of drums and striking pestles painted in red and white.
The area surrounding the dance performances will be alive with stalls and booths displaying the cultural heritage and way of life of people from the 12 districts (Amphoe), along with a multitude of shops and street vendors selling local handy crafts including ‘Mudmee’ clothes and musical instruments such as the Khaen, a local-style pan pipe. Intermingled with this dazzling sea of colour (it would not be Thailand if it were not) the whole area is also awash with the mouth-watering aromas from freshly cooked food and beverages.
While this pagoda is not as impressive as that of its close kin the Pra That Tha Uthen (the provincial seal shows the highly revered pagoda of Phra That Phanom situated in That Phanom district) the festivities are both beautifully regal and spiritual, combine this with the warm welcome you can expect come from the very heart of the people of Issan and the event is not to be missed.