Loei marks Ton Dokmai Festival

Hae Ton Dokmai in Loei. (Photo: Karnjana Ayuwatanachai)

In Loei, the Hae Ton Dokmai Festival will be organised at Wat Sri Pho Chai in tambon Sang Pha, Na Haeo district this month.

It is an annual event for locals in the Ban Saeng Pha community to make merit during the traditional Thai New Year. The villagers will make ton dokmai, which means "flowering trees" by weaving long bamboo sticks into towers with a height ranging from 1.8m to 3m. Each woven bamboo tower will be heavily decorated with colourful flowers.

Ton dokmai is regarded as an offering to Lord Buddha. It is an old tradition of the village that dates back more than 400 years. People believe that making merit will bring them plentiful rainfall for the coming rice cultivation season.

Ton dokmai must be done in a single day for the evening procession. Around 7pm, locals will carry ton dokmai to Wat Sri Pho Chai for the parade. They will carry the offerings around the temple's ordination hall for three rounds before placing them in front of the hall until morning. The procession ends at around 9pm.

The celebration will be organised over three days this month. The first event was launched yesterday and will be followed by two more celebrations on the evening of Wan Phra (Uposatha Day) which fall on April 19 and 26.

In addition, The Ban Ahi community in Tha Li district of Loei province will host a similar merit-making procession on Friday.

For more information, call the Tourism Authority of Thailand office in Loei at 042-812-812.

Mae Hong Son mass ordination

In Mae Hong Son, the mass novice ordination ceremony known as Poi Sang Long will be organised between Apr 19-22 at Wat Sri Bun Rueang in Mae Sariang district.

Poi Sang Long is a Tai Yai term. Poi refers to a religious event, sang is a short term for chao sang which means novice, and long refers to an enlightened person. Thus, they call the novices-to-be sang long.

As devoted Buddhists, the Tai Yai believe that being ordained from a young age is a great merit not only for the boys but also their parents. It is because children are like white cloth that can absorb and learn dhamma with a pure heart.

The Poi Sang Long merit-making event is organised yearly during the school break for boys between seven and 14 years. As the boys can be sang long only once in their life, the celebrations and ceremonies will be grand.

The novices-to-be will dress in an ornate dress to make them look like little princes. They will wear bright and colourful long-sleeved shirts and chongkraben, or traditional Thai pantaloon-like trousers. Their parents will put make-up on their faces and let them wear flower headdresses. The boys will also wear glittering gems, jewellery and rings. The idea is to remind the novices-to-be that they will soon be reborn to the simpler life of monkhood.

The highlight of the ceremony is the grand procession. Sang long will sit on the shoulders of male relatives to join the long parade on the street. Families and people in their communities will participate in the procession. They will also carry offerings such as kitchen utensils and items to be used by the novices-to-be. After the procession day, sang long will be ordained the next day.

Apart from Wat Sri Bun Rueang, the Poi Sang Long ceremony will be organised at Wat Thung Kong Mu in Muang district from Apr 19-22 and Wat Suphan Rangsi in Mae Sariang district during Apr 23 and 25.

For more information, visit the Thai-language Facebook of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Mae Hong Son office at facebook/TATHGN or call 053-612-982/3.

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