The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is inviting tourists and locals to observe the colourful festival of Khao Phansa, marking the start of Buddhist Lent, which this year is being celebrated on Sunday (July 9).
“It a great opportunity to see Thais celebrating the official start of the rainy season and an important Buddhist holiday. But they do so in a variety of ways in different parts of the kingdom. Visitors can experience various aspects of the people, customs and culture found in Thailand, and discover why every trip here is unique,” says the TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
Khao Phansa Day, known as vassavasa takes place on the day after the full moon of the eighth lunar month (July).
In Saraburi, for example, local flowers are donated to monks as a way of making merit while in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, candles are paraded on boats to celebrate the canal and boat life of the old Thai capital.
In Ubon Ratchathani, the International Wax Candle Festival and Wax Candle Procession celebrates the tradition of carving wax images and candles with teams coming from all over the world to compete in a wax sculpture competition.
Khao Phansa is also the day when traditionally monks would go to the temples and stay there for three months of meditation and study. Their need for candlelight during this time led to a tradition of carving amazing wax effigies and sculptures, which now play a big role in the celebrations.
As well as the processions of exquisitely carved candles and wax displays, Khao Phansa Day is celebrated with parades, folk dancing in traditional costumes, music and storytelling.
As the three-month period of Buddhist Lent is observed as a time of abstinence from drinking and eating to excess, people often see Khao Phansa Day as the last chance to indulge in their favourite local snacks and dishes. So many celebrations will have food fairs and booths selling local specialities. This makes the festival a great time to explore the unique culinary offerings of each district.
See list of places to celebrate Thailand’s Khao Phansa Festival 2017 or read up on Khao Phansa at www.TATnews.org