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Cultural Fair to Make Yala Province Better Known

April 5, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

1491133226pIn summer each year, Yala province in the deep South holds a cultural fair in Than To district to make the province better known as a multicultural society.
The fair, entitled “Folk Culture and Blooming Torch Ginger in Than To,” is organized in summer, as it is the period when torch ginger flowers are in full bloom.

Torch ginger, known in Thai as dala and in Malay as bunga kantan, is grown throughout tropical Southeast Asia for the spectacular flowers and for food. The stems of the deep pink flowers are chopped up and added to curries or soups with rice noodles.

Than To District Chief Boonterm Longluean said that Than To is a land of cultural variety and natural beauty. In fact, it has great potential in terms of tourism, but not many people know about it. Than To boasts several attractions that should be made better known, such as Hala-Bala Lake, Than To Waterfall Park, Torch Ginger Garden, Sakai village, and the Sea of Mist.

The annual Than To cultural fair has been organized since 2008. It aims to publicize various places in this district, apart from bringing about social harmony and cheerfulness. Local residents in Yala have been affected by violence in the deep South since 2004.

Around 60 percent of local residents in Than To district are Muslim. The remaining 40 percent are Buddhist. Many of them moved from the North, the Northeast, and other southern provinces to live at the Than To Self-help Settlement. Local people are engaged mainly in rubber cultivation, orchard planting, and fishing.

Than To is a settlement of the Sakai ethnic group, which is an ancient nomadic tribe. Their dwellings were originally made of bamboo, with thatched roofs. In 1973, the government developed a village for 21 families of this group and introduced rubber planting as their occupation. Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother, was asked to grant the family name “Sithanto” for all members of this group living in the village. Today, there are only a few Sakai villagers left at this village, as many have moved to other areas.

The Than To Waterfall Park, which is part of the Bang Lang National Park, is located 57 kilometers from the town of Yala, along the Yala-Betong road. Surrounded by high mountains, the 20-meter-high waterfall consists of nine tiers, each of which possesses its own remarkable beauty.

Folk cultural performances include noranang talung, and digae huluNora is the most important of the southern traditional performing arts. It has been the mainspring of Thai dramatic art for hundreds of years. Nang talung, or shadow puppetry, is another famous southern traditional performing art, reflecting the cultural influence of Java, which is strong in southern Thailand. As for digae hula, it is a traditional Muslim Thai choir performance.

At the Than To cultural fair, these performances are on show together, reflecting cultural variety in Yala.

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