The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is inviting travellers and visitors from around the world to join the Thai people in marking the start of this year’s three-month Buddhist Lent period or Khao Phansa. Khao Phansa falls on the first day after the full moon of the eight lunar month, or on 31 July this year.
Legend has it that when the Lord Buddha was travelling and spreading his teachings, it was traditional for ascetics to retire to retreats during the rainy season. This period was known as ‘vassa’ and was aimed at preventing crop damage during vital growing periods. During this time, monks stay within their temples for study and adhere strictly to the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT Acting Governor and Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas) said, “As usual, the annual Khao Phansa celebrations truly reflect the local traditions and strong beliefs in Buddhism of the Thai people. TAT cordially invites all tourists and travellers to witness some of Thailand’s unique festivals as well as immerse themselves in some delightful local customs that can’t be found elsewhere. In line with our ‘2015 Discover Thainess’ campaign, TAT is encouraging tourists and travellers to go beyond the traditional attractions and explore distinct customs and traditions in more local destinations; such as, the 12 hidden gems.”
Among some of the more unique celebrations marking Buddhist Lent in Thailand in 2015 include:
International Wax Candle Festival and Wax Candle Procession, from 15-31 July at Thung Si Mueang, Ubon Ratchathani, which acts as a showcase for the 9th international Wax Carving Competition. During Khao Phansa, from 30-31 July, the event will feature a spectacular parade of ornately-carved wax castles around the city, merit-making activities and light-and-sound presentation at night.
Nakhon Phanom Candle Festival, from 31 July – 1 August, Wat Phra That Phanom will be the venue for a colourful procession of exquisitely-carved candles, Miss Candle Beauty Contest, classical dancing, a mass merit-making ceremony, and the chance to pay homage to the highly-respected Phra That Phanom.
Candle Procession and Elephant Back Merit Making, from 29-30 July at the Monument of Phaya Surin Phakdi Sri Narong Changwang, Surin boasts a procession of nearly 100 elaborately-decorated elephants carrying some of the city’s most highly-revered monks around Surin in a unique and memorable merit-making ceremony.
Korat Candle Procession Festival 2015, from 30 July – 1 August at the Tao Suranaree Monument, Nakhon Ratchasima, is a display of exquisitely carved candles, candle procession and numerous merit-making activities. Ahead of the province’s grand celebration, Phimai and Chokchai districts will hold the candle festivals to mark the start of the Buddhist Lent on 29 July.
Tak Bat Dok Mai (Floral Merit-making) and Royal Candle Festival, from 29-31 July at Wat Phra Phutthabat, Saraburi, is a unique festival in which Buddhists will present Dok Khao Phansa – traditional yellow and white blooms – to monks ascending the temple steps to pay respect to the Buddha’s Footprint as well as wash the monks’ feet as a way of making merit and washing away sins.
Suphan Buri Candle Festival, from 30 July – 1 August at Wat Pa Lelai Woravihara, presents the colourful parade of beautifully-carved candles accompanied by folk performances of ethnic groups, a candle competition, displays of crafted candles and exquisitely-decorated floral floats as well as impressive performing arts.