Saturday, June 24, 2006

Khao Phansa - Candle Festival - Ubon Ratchathani - Thailand

Monks Khao Phansa UbonRatchathani Thailand At City Hall Stadium, Ubon Ratchathani The commencement of Phansa, or the Buddhist Rains Retreat, (known in Thai as Khao Phansa). With the arrival of the eighth lunar month in July, Thai Buddhists all over the kingdom celebrate Khao Phansa. Celebrations (Candle Festival) are held in Buddhist temples all over Thailand, but the most colorful can be found in Ubon Ratchathani that displays artistic skills as well as piety, Beautifully carved beeswax candles, some of them several meters tall, are exhibited in colorful parades before being presented to local temples. 'Khao Phansa', in Thai, refers to the beginning of the Buddhist Lent. During this time, Buddhist monks are restricted to their temples for a period of three months. Young men over 20 years, who have not yet ordained as monks, may take this opportunity to enter the monkhood to observe Buddhist teachings. The devout Buddhist of Ubon Ratchathani has long been known for their devotion to their religion especially by the procession Buddhist Lental Candle at the advent of Buddhist Lent. The occasion also represents and effort to support local tradition. To start with, the lead candle graciously granted by His Majesty the KING to Ubon Ratchathani will lead the procession to the temple under royal patronage. However a host of other festive activities are in the waiting. Candles will be entered into contests for the most beautifully decorated and best crafted candles. Maidens accompanying the candles and the procession themselves will also be judged for their beauty in other contests. In addition, there will be ample entertainment and musical performances at Thung Sri Muang every night throughout the festival. The beautiful and unique festival of Ubon Ratchathani succeeds in attracting a great number of both local and foreign tourists to this province every year. However, more than just an occasion to preserve tradition and local culture, it also helps boost Ubon Ratchathani's economy in terms of income generated from the sale of local merchandise, hospitality sector, restaurants, shops and independent cab drivers.

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