Parades at Wat Phrathat Phanom

To commemorate the 2,600th anniversary of the Lord Buddha attaining enlightenment, Nakhon Phanom province, Wat Phrathat Phanom Woramahawihan, the Council of Northeastern Monks, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (Tat) and Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives will host religious ceremonies and activities at Wat Phrathat Phanom this weekend.

Ton krathoop on display in Chaiyaphum.

The event is aimed at promoting local tourism and generating income for local communities.

Apart from spectacular parades from five northeastern provinces and demonstrations of handicraft making, participants can also listen to sermons by revered monks, join morning prayer and meditation and give alms to 500 monks and novices. They are encouraged to visit the province's other sacred sites, as well.

The five parades will have different themes. While the procession from Loei province will emphasise bouquets of flowers and bai sri (a banana-leaf decoration), Sakon Nakhon will show off its famous beeswax sculptures, Yasothon garlands made of popped rice, Kalasin garlands made of flowers crafted from bamboo, and Chaiyaphum the ton krathoop _ symbolic trees made of joss sticks, decorated with colourful paper flowers. Without this special occasion, visitors would have to visit the five different provinces to see these parades.

In the third lunar month, people of Yasothon's Maha Chana Chai district celebrate Makha Bucha Day, when 1,250 monks ordained by the Lord Buddha gather without appointment to listen to a sermon from the Buddha, by making garlands with popped rice made of the best glutinous grains. These garlands represent heavenly flowers named montharop.

During Songkran festival in the fifth lunar month, bouquets of flowers and bai sri will be prepared for decorating a procession at Wat Pho Chai in Na Haeo district of Loei. They are believed to bring happiness, good health, prosperity and fortune.

On the full moon day of the ninth or 10th lunar month, people of Tambon Kood Wa in Kuchinarai district, Kalasin, will make garlands of flowers crafted from bamboo and present them to monks.

In the 11th lunar month when Buddhist Lent ends, the residents of Tambon Nong Bua Daeng, Chaiyaphum, create artificial trees called krathoop from incense sticks and colourful paper in memory of the Lord Buddha's return from visiting his mother in heaven. The symbolic trees represent ton wa (sacred fig trees) in a legendary continent called Chompoo Thaweep.

Also at the end of Buddhist Lent, the people of Sakon Nakhon province make miniature temples and sculptures of beeswax and present them to local temples in the act of worshipping the Lord Buddha and making merit for their ancestors.

Contact Tat's Nakhon Ratchasima office on 044-213-666, email tatsima@tat.or.th or visit www.facebook.com/tat.korat.

Ton Krathoop in Chaiyaphum

This year's three-month Buddhist Lent will end on Oct 30. On this occasion, Chaiyaphum province and Tat's Nakhon Ratchasima office invite Buddhists to the Home Boon Ok Phansa celebrations set for Oct 27-29 in front of the Nong Bua Daeng district office.

A highlight will be the 1km-long procession of contesting parades decorated with ton krathoop, artificial trees made of joss sticks and colourful paper. The winner will be named on the first day. The parades, local music and cultural performances will be staged while local handicrafts and products will be sold.

Visitors can also visit the province's nine major Buddhist temples, three national parks and other attractions.

Contact the Tat's Nakhon Ratchasima office on 044-213-666, email tatsima@tat.or.th or visit www.facebook.com/tat.korat.

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About the author

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Writer: Pichaya Svasti
Position: Life Writer