A GUIDE TO THAILAND FESTIVALSby 凯利 2016-12-01
Thailand is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world with incredible culture, food and people to be discovered from the mountains in the north to the sandy beaches and pristine islands in the south. In order to enhance your journey through Thailand we recommend you experience some of the local festivals to get a true sense of Thai culture. Understanding and experiencing the uniqueness of Thai culture will provide you with a more rewarding travel experience and appreciation of this marvelous Kingdom.
There are numerous festival in Thailand all year round most of which originate from a deep religious respect founded in Buddhism. Many festivals give thanks for basic elements of life – water, food, love, family and nature, while paying due respect to the gods of the past that provided for the Thai people.
Flower Festival of Chiang Mai
Located in North Thailand, Chiang Mai is named the “north rose” due to the diverse flowers and flowering plants covering the surrounding hills and valleys. A three-day flower festival is held on the first weekend of February when the local flora blooms. Dating from 1976, many activities are held to show people’s love for flowers, such as a large float parade, dance performances, an exhibition of more than 200 kinds of flowers and even competitions among Miss Chiang Mai. Roads around the parks are adapted to pedestrian areas for providers of flowers and garden decorations to place their booths. Visitors can spend an hour or two in the shade appreciating the splendid flower displays. Early Saturday morning there is a large float parade from the Charoen Muang road to the train station moves slowly enough for the crowd to take picture of the stunningly decorated floats and beautiful flower girls that accompany it. Some of the hill tribe villages put on colorful national costumes to give wonderful performances of traditional dances while marchers throw roses to the crowd on the road. What is more, there are competitions among Miss Chiang Mai with a lively and strong cultural atmosphere.
Makha Bucha (a Buddha Festival)
March 15th on the Thai calendar is a traditional Buddhist festival known as Makha Bucha (the Festival of Buddha). According to the legend, more than 1000 disciples and monks spontaneously came together for a important sermon by Buddha Sakyamuni(the founder of Buddhism) which established the basis of Buddhist beliefs. During the Buddhists bring flowers, incense, candles and other offerings to the temple to make merit, burn incense and to worship and pray for themselves and others. In the evening, there is a candle ceremony called wian tian outside the main hall of the temple. Some Buddhists even accept five or eight precepts on this day to express the devotion to Buddhism. A grand candle ceremony is held every year in a Buddhist temple called Dharmakaya temple where tens of thousands of believers gather on a huge square and take part in the solemn and orderly ceremony. They sit together silently wishing and praying, before walking around the Buddha three times and lighting their candles. The calmness and reverence is humbling during this spectacular ceremony.
This important holiday on the Thai calendar is in honour of the 1782 foundation of the Chakri Dynasty otherwise known as the Bangkok dynasty. Falling on April the 6th the Thai National Day is celebrated with various activities throughout the country. This day is very important for the Royal family as well as the ordinary citizens who revere, love and worship their Royal Family. During the day, the king and other royal members will preside over a religious ceremony in honor of the former Kings of Thailand.
Songkran Festival (Water Festival)
In traditional Thai calendar the New Year starts on April 13th. Known as Songkran this is the largest celebration for the Thai’ lasting from 3-5 days. Signaling the coming rains after the brutal heat of March the Thais celebrate all day by throwing water on each other in the streets right across Thailand. Water is a symbol of purity and the source of life and is thought to wash away the unluckiness of the past year and bring good luck to them in the new year. Traditionally people just symbolically sprinkled a few drops of water on old people with wet leaves but now the whole country is immersed into a huge water war where local and foreiegner a like cannot go outdoors without being saturated. People carrying buckets and water guns can be seen everywhere in Bangkok and other cities. Loud music, dancing and endless water throwing means you need to be prepared:
1. Wear appropriate clothing to get wet – you cannot avoid it.
2. Please pay attention to keeping warm when you are prepared to get wet because there is powerful cold air in some places like shopping malls and railways.
3. You’d better take MRT instead of motorcars or TUKTUK because roads are very slippery and the drivers would be easily distracted, even if you don’t mind getting wet through.
4. Please prepare a bottle of clean water because you may need it to immediately wash the dirty water off to avoid infection if some water directly from rivers gets into your month or eyes.
Phi Ta Khon Festival
The Phi Ta Khon Festival (Thai Halloween) is a traditional festival unique to the Dan Sai district in Loei Province of Thailand. Originating from a Buddhist legend, it reflects the strong local belief of ghosts and the spirit world. A much loved and respected prince called Vessandorn was dedicated to the weel being of the people . As an incarnation of Buddha his death made the people so sad that even the gods become sad. The legend tells that the prince was allowed to return to his people and all the other souls cam out to welcome him and held celebrations. Rather than being frightening it is celebrated as a happy moment and lively event. Masks made of glutinous rice husks with a long pointed nose and painted in bright red and bright green colors, are worn during the festivities. Some participants also wear strange robes, dance lively and carry tokens to bring good luck especially for the coming rice harvest. The festival is held on the first weekend of June so please do come along and see this magical festival.
Perhaps we all know that some Chinese people make a wish when flying a kongming lantern. Similar things take place in Thailand on the first full moon day of December on the Thai calendar, which usually falls in November. “Loy” means drifting and “Krathong” means a small raft or a basket used as a boat made of banana leaves or paper. Although there is no definite origin, it reminds people of a festival showing respect to Mae Kongkha (Goddess of water) because it happens at the end of the rainy season. It is held throughout the country in honor of their ancestors. At night, tens of thousands of people set drift a Krathong with a candle lit inside on a river or sea. They also fly kongming lanterns and wish for love and luck in the future. Thousand of lanterns fly into the sky and small boats drift into the distance in an incredibly beautiful scene. If you want to experience this fantastic event the most incredible sites are in Bangkok by the Chao Phraya river while down in the south in Phuket the amazing beauty can be scene along the coastal areas.