From the Blog

June 8, 2015

Thailand’s Candle Festivals

The Significance of Candles in the Kingdom’s annual Candle festivals, and why they replaced gunpowder in many parts of northeast Thailand

Revised June 2017

The Significance of Candles

Thailand’s Candle Festivals 2015Candles make up an important part of most Thai merit making, and no more so on Asanha Bucha Day, and the start of the Buddhist Lent period, both typically held in July each year.

This is also the traditional time for preparation for the rainy season. Merit making at this time of year comes with donating items for the personal use of the monks at local temples, it is these same monks who in turn, will not leave their temples during this 3 months of Lent, the gifts include such things as clothes, food and candles.

This form of ‘merit making’ was and is still, the core event of many village celebrations during Asanha Bucha Day. When candles take center stage, in the evening Candle Light Procession,  Wian Tian; Wian Tian is a tranquil candlelight procession where devotees walk three times around a Temple in a clockwise direction, carrying a lighted candle, Joss sticks and flowers, these will later be given as an offering to pay homage to the Lord Buddha. “Wian” means to circle and “Tian” is a candle

 

Candle festivals take place right across North East Thailand, almost exclusively in July each year, prior to the 3 month Buddhist lent. It is believed the modern candle festivities have been taking place annually for over 120 years.

 

To see details on the biggest see our post Thailand’s Biggest Candle Festivals

 

July festivals across Thailand

History of Thailand’s Candle Festivals

During the reign of Rama V, in late 1893 the King appointed, Prince Sappasittiprasong, as the High Commissioner of the then fragmented regions of what we now call Isan, It was during this time the King attempted to further increase the Siamese influence in the area and break the feudal system that then prevailed.

 

Candle Festivals in Thailand

 

The young Prince made his home and the center of the then Lao Kao Circle, in the town of Ubon Ratchathani. During his time he witnessed the many injuries and deaths, villagers suffered during the traditional rocket festival (Bun Bang Fai) and so decided to replace the dangerous black powder festival with today’s candle festivals.

 

Where communities once competed for the biggest rocket, many now compete in building and presenting the most elaborate of candle sculptures. Rocket festivals still  survive today in the Isan region see more on the biggest and wildest.

This later tradition normally runs for two days of festivities, including a variety of traditional dancers, musicians and colourful parades, displaying these, at times huge and always marvelously carved works of art, each carried on equally elaborately decorated floats.

The building of the wax sculpture starts around three months prior to the festival. A Candle float can cost as much as THB 300,000, the province at times will help with a grant, while the rest of the money comes from donations from the participating villagers.

 

To see details on the biggest see our post Thailand’s Biggest Candle Festivals

 

Candle festival in July Thailand

For more on Festivals across Thailand for each month click on any of the Following:  JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober

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