Thursday, February 23, 2006

Magha Puja: Buddhist Festival in That Phanom

Magha Puja Buddhist Festival

During the holiday between sowing and harvesting the rice, thousands flock to the famous Ngan Phra That Phanom temple to celebrate the Buddhist festival of Magha Puja. The wat (temple) faces both the Mekong river and the rising sun, so the best approach to it is by water. It is thought to have been founded in 535 BC, eight years after the Buddha's death, when five local princes built a simple rick chedi (temple) to house bits of the Buddha's breastbone. The temple rests on a gleaming white marble platform, where pilgrims leave their offerings under an umbrella made of 16kg of gold. This arch is inlaid with precious gems and gold rings embedded in each tier. Around this magnificent edifice music, delicious food and drink stalls, theatre performances and traditional Isaan-style dancing take place. Pilgrims and lay people gather to give prayers to the Buddha and to meditate, with the culmination of the festival on the full moon evening when monks hold a candlelit procession around the temple. We have given you the date of the full moon alone, but be aware that celebrations begin a few days before, and may last a few days beyond. One of the special things about this particular temple festival is that Lao people from the other side of the Mekong are allowed to come over in their boats (under the beady eyes of the customs and immigration officials) to pay homage to what was once their shared inheritance with the Thais.

The festival is in March 2006 and you can take aplane from Bangkok to Nakkon Phanom which is about 50 km away from That Phanom.

delicious furl Yahoo My Web Google Bookmark Blinklist Blogmark Simpy Shadow Netvouz Reddit