Lao villagers accused of yearly festival 'fireball con'

Lao villagers accused of yearly festival 'fireball con'

Naga fire balls (yellow dots) shoot up into the sky along with fireworks (in red) on the night of the end of Buddhist Lent. (Photo courtesy of Bang Fat Phaya Nak Proof Facebook fanpage)
Naga fire balls (yellow dots) shoot up into the sky along with fireworks (in red) on the night of the end of Buddhist Lent. (Photo courtesy of Bang Fat Phaya Nak Proof Facebook fanpage)

A Facebook page submitted a petition to the Lao Embassy on Monday, asking that it look into evidence that Lao villagers along the Mekong River have for many years been shooting flares intended to resemble Bang Fai Phaya Nak, or Naga fireballs, to deceive northeastern Thais during the annual festival.

Hundreds of pink-and-red fireballs are said to naturally rise out of the murky water of the Mekong River after dusk during the full moon at the end of Buddhist Lent, or the so-called Wan Ok Phansa.

This phenomenon is thought by some Thais to be Naga fireballs, which the mythical creatures shoot out from the river to celebrate the festival.

Somphob Khasawat, the administrator of Bang Fai Phaya Nak Proof Facebook page, said he had observed the event for a decade.

Drones had been deployed to capture the scene and discovered that the fireballs were actually flare gun shots from the Lao side of the Mekong River. Last Thursday, two fireballs were also spotted from Laos while Mr Somphob had been observing the scene at Wat Ahong in Bueng Kan.

Mr Somphob said 10 villages in Laos were involved, located opposite Nong Khai and Bueng Kan districts.

There were four villages -- Ban Don Nue, Ban Na Kung, Ban Pakngum and Ban Nong Kiat -- in Pakngum, and five villages -- Ban Huay Sai Pai, Ban Tuay, Ban Hong Thong, Ban Had Sai and Ban Pak Tuay -- in Thaphabat district and Ban Thung Noi in Pakkading district of Bolikhamsai.

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