Resplendent sand pagoda

Once a year this large sand pagoda is erected within the grounds of Wat Jetlin in Chiang Mai to celebrate Songkran. According to the wat's abbot Phra Maha Visanu, the pagoda was built because of an old belief that whenever someone visited the temple, they unintentionally carried away little grains of sand or dirt on their shoes. So, during the Songkran festival, it is time to return them to the temple.

Each temple in Chiang Mai has a sand pagoda built in two to three layers. The size is normally about the height of an adult, but the sand pagoda in Wat Jetlin is very special. It is about 8m tall and uses more than 700m3 (247 tonnes) of sand.

The pagoda has five layers with a golden colour seven-tiered umbrella on top.

"This is the largest sand pagoda in Chiang Mai," said the abbot. It is called Chedi Sai Sut Sao which means "the sand pagoda at the height of the tip of a long picking pole" in the local dialect.

Pinned around the sand pagoda are colourful Lanna-style flags, or tung which are used for decoration and adorned by locals as a contribution to the temple.

This merit-making ceremony will last until the end of the week. Afterwards the sand will be used to construct a hall where people can have food for free in the temple.

About the author

Writer: Karnjana Karnjanatawe
Position: Travel Reporter