Thailand is a country with a long history and rich culture with many interesting traditions. Throughout the year, there are a lot of enthralling festivals celebrated across the country. There are many different occasions but 6 festivals, in particular, are very special. Attending and participating in these festivals is a must for those who truly want to experience the culture of Thailand. In this article, you will learn a little about these festivals and the many colors of Thailand.
Songkran Festival / Water Festival เทศกาลสงกรานต์
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The Songkran festival (เทศกาลสงกรานต์) is one of the most famous celebrations of Thailand. It is a new year’s festival where a traditional water pouring ceremony is carried out. The three-day event is usually held between the 13th-15th of each year. The celebration is meant to mark the beginning of the Buddhist New Year.
The images of Buddha are bathed with water and worshipped. Younger Thais are meant to wash the hands of their elders and monks with water to show respect and ask for blessings. It is also a time when people visit temples and give offerings to monks. Another important aspect of the tradition is to pay reverence to ancestors. These days, most major streets are closed to traffic and people venture out to playfully engage in water fights.
Similar ceremonies are held in neighboring countries like Laos, Myanmar, China and India. The exact practice may vary according to the culture of the country. While Thai people splash water to celebrate, India has a similar festival (Holi festival) where colors are splashed on each other.
Songkran Festival in Thailand held at 13-15 April of every year. Thai people usually have long week-end holiday during this period of the year.
Loy Krathong festival เทศกาลลอยกระทง
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The Loy Krathong festival (เทศกาลลอยกระทง) falls on the full moon day of the twelfth lunar month of each year. The term “Loy ลอย” means float and “Krathong กระทง” is a decorative basket. On this day, the Thai people put lamps, flowers and incense in these buoyant baskets and float them on the river. The baskets are traditionally made from the bark or leaves of banana trees. However, a lot of people have switched to using bread baskets since these can serve as food for the fish and it reduces waste accumulation in the river. As they float these baskets, they worship the Goddess of Water and ask for forgiveness.
“Loy Krathong Sai” (ลอยกระทงสาย) festival is a variant of this festival that is celebrated in the Tak Province of Thailand. The Krathong is made from coconut shells here and a thousand of these are released consecutively into the Ping (แม่น้ำปิง) River groove. This creates a beautiful scene as the candlelight is reflected in the water in a row. A lot of people attend this festival to witness this sparkling sight.
Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand held on the full moon day of the 12th lunar month every year, checking the festival date each year is a must if you would like to join the Loy Krathong Night. Loy Krathong is not a national Holiday but people will gather after the sunset to float the Krathong in the river, pond, pool, etc. when the moon shine in the sky.
Yee Peng Lanna festival / Lantern festival ประเพณียี่เป็ง
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The Yee Peng Lanna festival (ประเพณียี่เป็ง) is celebrated to worship Phra Ket Kaew Chulamanee (พระเกตุแก้วจุฬามณี). It is generally held on a full moon day in November each year in Chiang Mai Province. The term “Yi ยี่” means two and “peng เป็ง” means full moon day.
Initially, this festival marked the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the cooler season. People float paper lanterns into the sky during this night. Local homes and most public places in the province are decorated with colorful lanterns and flags as well. Since these lamps are lightweight, burning the flame allows them to easily float up into the air.
It is believed that the flame in the lantern is a symbol of knowledge and the light exuded from the lamp will help the person live their life righteously. Once the lanterns have been released and you enjoy the brightly lit sky, there are firecrackers and music performances to enjoy during the festival too.
If you like to join the Lantern Festival, you should visit the north area of Thailand since it is Lanna’s Culture. The festival usually held on the same date as Loy Krathong Festival.
Lai Ruea Fai festival / Nakhon Phanom Illuminated Boat Procession ประเพณีไหลเรือไฟ
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The Lai Ruea Fai festival (ประเพณีไหลเรือไฟ) is held on the full moon day of the 11th lunar month of the year. It is a spectacular illuminated boat festival that is a magnificent Thai tradition practised by the northeastern locals. While several provinces held this festival in the past, only some have preserved the practice.
The festival in Nakhon Phanom is where visitors come from all over each year. It is meant to commemorate the day when Lord Buddha came from the Devaloka. It is believed that Lord Buddha had done to Devaloka for lent and to preach to his mother. After the Buddhist lent, he descended back down to the human world as all the deities graciously bid him farewell. On his descent, human beings received him with enormous devotion and the flowing boats are a symbol of this devotion to date. Some also worship the Ganga and the Phaya Naga on this day.
Boon Bang Fai festival / Rocket festival ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ
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The Boon Bang Fai festival (ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ) is celebrated in Isaan, north-eastern Thailand. It is meant to honor the God of rain Phaya Tan (พญาแถน) and the locals participate with a lot of enthusiasm. Home-made rockets are fired into the sky to ask God for rain since it is time for the villagers to work in their fields.
These rockets are usually made with plastic, bamboo, paper, wood and gunpowder. During the festival, the rockets are mounted on decorated floats that are taken on a procession. People don traditional costumes and folk dance performances are held as well. At the end of the procession, the rockets are launched and it is believed that the higher the rockets go, the more auspicious it will be for the farmers’ harvest.
Phi Ta Khon festival ประเพณีผีตาโขน
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