Northeast - Festivals and events

Khon Kaen

Dok Khoon Siang Khaen Flower Festival

merit makingDok Khoon Siang Khaen Flower Festival is held annually at Bung Kaen Nakhon, one of the province's premier recreation areas, on 12-15 April, which coincides with Songkran Day (Thai Traditional New Year).

northeastern danceImportant activities include merit making in the morning and religious rites, colorfully decorated floral parades featuring Isaan folk music, dancing and entertainment. Another not-to-be-missed activity is the annual boating competition.

Silk Festival

Thai silkSometimes called Phuk Sieo, this traditional Silk Festival is held annually in late November or early December at Khon Kaen City Hall, to promote silk weaving and silkworm culture. With a host of stalls offering a wide range of merchandise and food, this festival is one of the most important in Khon Kaen, and offers a plethora of interesting activities, such as an informative silk exhibition, and the annual Thida Mai competition (Miss Silk Contest).


Phi Ta Khon Festival

Phi Tah Khon, LoeiEveryone loves a good ghost story. The gruesome, the spiritual and the supernatural arouse an instinctive curiosity in all of us. In the west, ghostly fervor reaches a peak with Halloween on October 31. In Thailand, the spirit-world comes closest to us in June with the Phi Ta Khon festival, an event filled with fun, mischief and of course, a touch of the unknown.

The Phi Ta Khon Festival is quite unique to Thailand and unrivalled by any other ghost festival. Held in Dan Sai district of Loei province, about 450 km north of Bangkok, Phi Ta Khon is part of a Buddhist merit-making holiday known locally as 'Bun Pha Ves.' The precise origin of Phi Ta Khon is unclear. But it is believed that the roots of the festival revolve around an important tale of the Buddha's last life, before he reached nirvana.

According to Buddhist folklore, the Buddha-to-be was born as Prince Vessandorn, a generous man who gave freely to the people. One day, he gave away a white elephant, a royal creature, revered as a symbol of rain. The townspeople were so angry for fear of drought and famine, that they banished the prince into exile.

The prince left the village for a very long journey. Finally, the king and the people got over their anger and recalled him to the city. When he eventually returned, his people were overjoyed. They welcomed him back with a celebration so loud that even the dead were awakened from their slumbers to join in the festivities.

Phi Ta Khon is held with the arrival of the sixth or seventh lunar month. Young male villagers prepare their ghostly attire and masks, while children roam around town playing tricks. Sheets or blankets are sewn together to look like shrouds while traditional wooden bamboo containers used to store sticky rice (huad), are creatively fashioned into bizarre hats. The huge masks are carved from the bases of coconut trees. The spirit masks are the integral part of the celebrations, which last for three consecutive days.

The first day is marked by a masked procession, accompanied by rejoicing, music and dancing. On the second day, the villagers dance their way to the temple and fire off bamboo rockets to signal the end of the procession. Along the way, they tease onlookers as they accompany a sacred image of the Buddha through the village streets. Monks recite the story of the Buddha's last incarnation before attaining enlightenment.

The festival organizers also hold contests for the best masks, costumes and dancers, and plaques are awarded to the winners in each age group. The most popular event is the dancing contest among those dressed up as ghosts.

On the last day of the event, the villagers gather at the local temple, Wat Ponchai, to listen to the message of the thirteen sermons of the Lord Buddha, recited by the local monks. The ghost dancers then put away their ghostly masks and costumes for another year, return to the paddy fields and continue to earn their living with the onset of the new crop season.

Nakorn Ratchasima

Thao Suranari Festival

Khun Ying MoSituated at the western gate to Nakhon Ratchasima is one of the region's most celebrated places, the Thao Suranari Monument. Every 23 March to 2 April, Nakhon Ratchasima hosts a festival in tribute to Thao Suranari, or Khun Ying Mo, the wife of a Thai official who successfully staved off an invasion by Lao soldiers from Vientiane in 1826.

This festival, which lasts ten days, is accompanied by parades, beauty contests, fireworks displays, and exhibitions of traditional song and dance, which draw people from all over the region. The highlight of this festival is the performance of the traditional Nakhon Ratchasima song, by groups of hired singers. There are literally hundreds of these groups for hire, charging between 300-600 baht per performance.

Phimai Boat Races - Nakhon Ratchasima

long boat racingFor over a hundred years, thousands of people from the town of Nakhon Ratchasima and the surrounding provinces have flocked to the small, riverside town of Phimai for the annual Phimai Boat Races. These longboat races take place on the Mun River, a tributary of the Mekong, and are held at the same time as the Prasat Hin Phimai Festival and the national festival of Loy Krathong, usually in late October or early November.

Prasat Hin Phimai Festival

Prasart Hin PhimaiOf all the historical sites in Nakhon Ratchasima, perhaps the most impressive is this ancient Khmer shrine, which pre-dates Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. It is estimated that construction on this shrine began during the reign of Khmer King Jayavarman V in the late 10th century and was finished in the early 11th century, by King Suriyavarman I. During the height of the Angkor Empire, this site was directly connected to Angkor Wat by road.

Every year thousands of people from the city of Nakhon Ratchasima and the adjacent provinces gather in the modest town of Phimai to celebrate this magnificent historical relic as only Thais can. There are exhibitions of traditional music, dance and theatre, as well as a laser light and fireworks show at the ruins. This festival takes place in late October or early November, at the same time as the Phimai Boat Races and the national holiday - Loy Krathong.

Nong Khai

Prap Ho Monument Festival

Prap Ho MonumentEvery March the town of Nong Khai hosts this festival in honor of the brave Thais who held off Ho Chinese armies twice in the nineteenth century. Centered around the monument on Chaiporn Rd., this festival consists of colorful traditional dance, lively local music, plays, and a large fair boasting a large number of local and Lao merchandise. This festival is of extreme importance to the townspeople, who are amongst the friendliest in all of Thailand.

Songkran Festival

Songkran Festival During the Songkran Festival, the town of Nong Khai hosts a traditional ceremony in tribute to the town's most sacred Buddha image, the Luang Pho Phra Sai, which is located at Wat Pho Chai. This ceremony is one of the most significant religious ceremonies in the town, and is accompanied by a rocket show, and a large, colorful fair with vendor selling a wide variety of Lao and local goods.

Article Source: http://www.thailand.com

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