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Thai Festivals

Many colourful festivals are held in Thailand throughout the year, both locals and others imported from abroad. Apart from New Year, Christmas and Chinese New Year which are widely celebrated in the kingdom, the richness and traditions of Thai traditional festivals are fascinating and provide incomparable opportunities to get to know better the Thai culture and some of its facets.

Loy Krathong Festival
Celebrated at the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (usually in mid-November), Loy Krathong is one of Thailand’s oldest and best preserved festivals. In the evening throughout the kingdom, Thais gather by waterways and set adrift beautifully decorated banana leaf floats – called krathong – complete with lit candles, incense sticks, and a coin (that is usually later collected by local children wading in the water). The purpose of this festival is to leave one’s sins and misfortune behind and to wish for good luck for a new year. This tradition has evolved from ancient royal rituals during which lanterns were set afloat along the Chao Phraya River and its waterways.canada goose kensington parka

Phuket Vegetarian Festival
This impressive festival, which lasts over a week, is celebrated by the Thai-Chinese in Phuket every October. The rituals performed aim at cleansing the mind and soul by refraining from eating meat and by meditating. The presence of deities is symbolized by nine lit lanterns that are placed on Ko Teng poles. During the festival there are religious processions as well as amazing displays of body and face piercings. The Koi Han ceremony on the last day exorcises ill fortune while a ceremony is held at night to bid farewell to the deities.

River Kwai Bridge Week
Kanchanaburi Province, located a two-hour drive from Bangkok, is home to the notorious River Kwai Bridge that symbolizes the atrocities faced by allied prisoners of war during the Second World War. This historical landmark has now become the focal point of celebrations held in late November and early December during which historical and archaeological exhibits, cultural performances, rides on a vintage train, and a carnival are organized. The highlight of this festival is a particularly impressive light-and-sound show in remembrance of the history of the bridge and the people involved in its construction and subsequent destruction.

Songkran Festival
Arguably Thailand’s most famous festival, Songkran is celebrated every April from the 13th to the 15th throughout the kingdom by all ages of the population and marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. During this period, many people leave Bangkok to return to their hometowns upcountry and the capital suddenly becomes a pleasant semi-deserted place.
Songkran, which means “moving”, is also known as the Water Festival as people joyfully splash each other with water believed to wash away the previous year’s bad luck. Visitors toThailandduring the festival should be prepared to get soaked on the streets and are strongly advised to wear old clothes and carry their valuables and electronic gadgets in a water-proof bag.

Traditional Buddhist ceremonies are also held at which bathing rites for Buddha images and monks are held and merit-making is performed.

Tak Bat Devo and Chak Pra Festivals
Tak Bat Devo, held in central Thailand, and Chak Pra, celebrated in the South, both mark the event of Lord Buddha’s return to Earth after delivering a sermon in Heaven that lasted for the entire period of the Rains Retreat, or Khao Phansa. The celebrations fall on the first day of the waxing moon of the 11th lunar month (October)
During Tak Bat Devo, people offer a variety of food and fruit to rows of passing Buddhist monks who are preceded by an image of the standing Buddha carried by men representing the Gods Indra and Brahma. Chak Pra in the South, and particularly inSuratThaniProvince, is marked by land and water float-pulling ceremonies. These are brightly decorated and carry Buddha images. The festival ends with a thrilling boat race and a traditional game.

Yee Peng Festival
Yee Peng is an annual festival held in Chiang Mai to celebrate the full moon on the day preceding Loy Krathong. The word Yee Peng is the northern Thai term referring to the full moon of the 12th lunar month in the Buddhist calendar. During this festival, locals make merit and participate in various religious ceremonies. The highlight of the festival consists in launching paper lanterns – called khlom loy – with a candle inside that will make them ascend to sometimes great heights. It is believed that one’s misfortune will fly away with the lanterns and the sight of the night being lit by these floating objects can be truly awe-inspiring. This festival has now spread to other parts ofThailand such as Pattaya where lanterns can be purchased and launched on the beach during Songkhran.