From the Blog

October 2, 2015

The Shan Chong Para Festival

Chong Para Festival 2017 – 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

Edited 02/09/2017

Chong Para Festival

 

When: 5thth October 2017

Where: Mae Hong Son province. North West Thailand

 

The festival brings together the local Tai Yai communities, on the evening of the full moon for Wan Ok Phansa Day, when the people of different villages come together to eat and dance, before forming the Chong Para procession in which they carry their decorative wooden towers to the local temple.

This annual celebration, also known as the Poi Loen Sip Et Festival, is possibly the biggest annual event, for the local Tai Yai (Shan) people. See our post on this The forgotten hill tribe.

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 ethnic diversity, there are umpteen regional different and unique festivals, celebrating what is the Kingdom’s most holiest of days. See below for more details on a number of events through out the country.

 

Chong Para Festival 2016

 

Chong Para Ceremony

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 while ‘Para’ means 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.

 

 

Chong Para Festival 2016 Shan_peacock_dance

Shan Peacock Dance

 

The festival, also features spectacular vibrant cultural performances including the Shan Peacock Dance, the Nok Gingkala Mythical Bird Dance and the Shan Kinnara Dance (all three dances can be seen on you tube by clicking their respective name).

While celebrated through-out the province it is in Mae Hong Son town where you find the biggest festival, as villagers carrying their own towers, pour in from all over the province and join in the procession that snakes its way through the town that was founded by the Shan in the 1830’s.

 

Chong Para Festival 2016 .

The whole day is a mass of colour and noise and is a wonderful time, not just for this ancient people, but for all those lucky enough to be there, as it is at this time where you can feel the history literally seeping out of every Chong Para.

For more on the Shan see our post The Fogotten Hill Tribe 

 

Celebrations across Thailand

Celebrations at this time of the year are conducted through-out Thailand, with a vast array of different, vibrant festivals that sit hand in hand, with the religious rites, to mark the occasion of the end of the Buddhist Lent; each has its own uniqueness and is known by many names.

In Thailand’s south the people celebrate this most auspicious occasion with their very own festival of Chak Phra (Phum Pha Pa), while also in the south the people of Phatthalung Province, go mad with drums in the Phon Lak Phra Festival.

 

Lent Celebrations across Thailand

 

The north west has its spiritual Tak Bat Devo Festival, featuring hundreds of Buddhist monks, there are another two festivals similar to this event; Lak Phra and Tak Bat Thewo which is actually two events spread over two days and held in Songkhla Province, Southern Thailand, plus the far smaller ‘Tak Bat Thewo Rohana Fair‘ Wat Phutthawat in Kalasin Northeast Thailand.

The province of Sakon Nakhon features the amazing Wax Castle possession, while also in the north east province of Nakhon Phanom you will find the dazzling Fire Boat Possession, the same region also has the beautiful Light Incense Festival.

Central Thailand offers you the chance to be part of the Lotus Flower Festival Not forgetting throughout the Kingdom you can witness a whole host of Longboat races and Festivals

 

The following day across the Kingdom, the 30 day Ritual of Krathin will begin, when monks will be offered new robes. In Bangkok, there is the Royal Thod Kathin ceremony also known as Kathina Luang, which is attended by members of the Thai royal family.

The Mon People in Bangkok also celebrate with their own colourful Tuk-baat Phra Roi River Festival, while the Shan have their Fire Balloons

 

 

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