Religious retreat

If you still haven't made plans for this Makha Bucha weekend, you could do worse than head to Maha Sarakham. The northeastern province is celebrating its annual festival at Phra Borommathat Na Dun, a revered pagoda in the district of the same name, until Sunday.

Unlike most sacred religious monuments, which are usually centuries-old, Phra That Na Dun, as it is often called for short, dates back only to 1987. It was built to enshrine what is believed to be a relic of the Buddha, found in an ancient miniature stupa unearthed in Na Dun district in 1979. The bronze stupa replica and its contents were the most important of the large number of Dvaravati artefacts found in the district that a thousand years ago was the location of a city called Champa Sri. The design of Phra That Na Dun was inspired by the metal Dvaravati stupa.

Phra That Na Dun stands in a religious park known as Phutthamonthon Isan. The park is made up of different zones, including a museum dedicated to Champa Sri, a herbal garden and a botanical garden.

During the annual celebration, in addition to daily religious rites, there are various forms of entertainment, including performances from popular Isan singer

Phra That Na Dun. Photo: Karnjana Karnjanatawe

s such as Khamphun Ruammit (today), Phai Pongsathorn and Dokmoei Phennapha (tomorrow) and Maithai Huachaisin (Sunday). On Saturday, Makha Bucha Day, there will be a wien tian ceremony in which Buddhists walk around the pagoda three times to make merit. A wide variety of local products, from handicrafts to herbs and farm produce as well as traditional food will also be on sale.

Phra That Na Dun is 63km south of downtown Maha Sarakham, which in turn is about 86km from Khon Kaen airport.

For more information, visit the local Tourism Authority of Thailand office via the TAT Khonkaen page on Facebook or call 043-227-714.

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