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Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Date(s): May 2008
Venue: Sanam Luang, Bangkok

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is actually two ceremonies in one. The first, the Phra Ratchaphithi Phuetcha Mongkhon is a Buddhist ceremony to bless the plants. The second, the Charot Phra Nangkhan Kan is a brahmin ceremony to bless the plants. The ceremonies are carried out each year to bring good fortune to all plants, and to boost morale. This tradition was adopted during the reign of Rama IV. As noted in Rama V's book on the royal ceremonies of the twelves months, Phra Ratchaphithi Sipsong Duean. "Charot Phra Nangkhan used to only invoke brahmin rituals and in no way made use of buddhist rituals. However, Rama IV introduced the rites of the buddhist monks into the conduct of all royal ceremonies, of which the Charot I Phra Nangkhan is one. However, he set aside the buddhist ritual as a separate ceremony called Phuetcha Mongkhon".
It is believed that the Phra Ratchaphithi Charot Phra Nangkhan Raek Na Khwan, commonly known as the Raek Na Khwan Ceremony, dates back to before the days of Sukhothai, although there is no citable source to confirm this. The ceremony is referred to in the Nang Nopphamat Book, which dates from the Sukhothai period. During the Ayutthaya period, the ceremony was of great importance as it was recorded in the laws of the land as a compulsory royal ceremony that must be conducted in the 6th month. On the first day of ploughing, the king bestows his sword and sceptre to the Phraya Raek Na Khwan as though conferring his powers; at the same time he takes a step back and does not most a tropical grant audiences, taking a reduced load. In the Rattanakosin period, the Phra Ratchaphithi Phuetcha Mongkhon ceremony was conducted by monks on the grounds of Sanam Luang. The brahmin Phra Ratchaphithi Charot Phra Nangkhan Raek Na Khwan was conducted at Thung Som Poi, outside the Royal Palace. Both were conducted on the same day and at the same time. The Phra Ratchaphithi Charot Phra Nangkhan Raek Na Khwan was temporarily suspended between 1936 and 1959, during the transition from a government system of absolute monarchy to that of a constitutional monarchy. The practice of the Phra Ratchaphithi Phuetcha Mongkhon continued to be conducted throughout this time. In 1960, Rama IX brought the two ceremonies together as they had been in ancient times.

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The Illuminated Boat Procession

Date : 9 – 15 Octorber 2008
Venue : Mekong River, Mueang District, Nakhon Phanom

This festival was originally aimed at payings respect to the Lord Buddha. Then the competition of the illuminated boat processions was organised to add colour to the event. An invitation is delivered to the public and private sectors, including temples,to participate in the competition. The illuminated boats lined up in the middle of the Mekong River create an impressive scene for viewers.

Contact :

TAT Northeastern Office : Region 4, Tel. : 66 (0) 4251 3490-1

Nakhon Phanom Provincial Administration Office, Tel. : 66 (0) 4251 1287, 66 (0) 4251 1574

Buffalo Racing

You could be forgiven for thinking that a domesticated buffalo is not built for sprinting, but in Chonburi town, the gateway to resorts along the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, farmers have managed to tweak a turn of speed from these working animals that is nothing short of amazing.

The annual Buffalo races, 13 October, are a hotly contested series of sprints across on an open space in front of the town’s municipal offices.Tourists and the town’s residents turn out for these amazing races that have been featured in the past on CNN and the BBC as a must-see event.
The races are taken very seriously by the owners of the buffaloes. Prizes for the first nose past the finishing line guarantee owners go to considerable lengths to ensure their buffaloes are in tip-top condition. Clouds of dust rise as these hefty animals pound down the short course at an alarming speed, reminiscent of a stampede. The crowd roars in support of the favourites and the atmosphere is as an enthralling as watching thoroughbred race horses.Admittedly, mites slower than a race horse, but the buffaloes are no slouches when it comes to making a short dash for glory.

Although this day of fun and competition would succeed with just the buffaloes as the celebrities, there are other activities to make it a worthwhile outing for families.A fair with food stalls and handicrafts appeals to visitors who love authentic Thai food, snacks and sweets. Then there are the rides for children, concerts of folk music and, of course, a beauty contest where the prize is the honour of being declared Miss Buffalo. Not exactly the most adhering of titles for an aspiring beauty queen, but it does not seem to deter contestants from seeking the limelight of the catwalk.Here is a festival that provides photo opportunities to capture an unusual adaptation of the 100-metre dash. Well worth seeing, is always the conclusion of those who make the effort to travel to Chonburi.

If the more traditional version of four-legged races is more appealing then the venue should be the Horse Show, 23 October at the Sanctuary of Truth, also in Chonburi province, on the outskirts of Pattaya The show is organised to commemorate the reign of King Rama V, the Great, on a day set aside as a national holiday to honour a ruler who initiated many of the developments that ultimately encouraged the economic and social transformation of the nation.

Bang Fai Phaya Nak (Naga Fireball)

This extraordinary miracle always occurs at the beginning of the full moon night in the eleventh lunar month (End of Buddhist Lent). It can be seen along the Mekong River in the districts of Mueang, Phon Phisai, Pak Khat, Bung Kan, Tha Bo, Si Chiang Mai and Sangkhom. Bang Fai Phaya Nak is a term used for red and pinkish fire balls, which according to belief, belong to Phaya Nak or the great serpent of the underwater world. On the day marking the End of Buddhist Lent, a great number of people come to witness this phenomenon.

Naga Fireball Festival in Nong Khai

It remains a mystery that never ceases to puzzle both visitors and locals alike. Just what is the origin and nature of the fireballs that fly from the surface of the Mekong River high into the night sky for all to see?
Locals swear there is absolutely no doubt at all about the origin of the fireballs. Naga, the serpent reportedly dwelling in the murky currents of this mighty river, propels fireballs skyward, probably to remind villagers to treat this life-giving river with respect.
Of course, there are detractors, researchers who have spent years of study attempting to explain away the fireball phenomenon, all to no avail.

Some say it is an elaborate hoax, but the only way to find out is to travel to Nong Khai and check out river scene and the carnivals that villagers organise to celebrate the now famous legendary serpent.
Festivities run from 10 to 16 October, along the Mekong River bank, in Phon Pisai district in Nong Khai province. There are also corresponding celebrations on the Lao side of the river and no shortage of theories on whether Thailand’s neighbours, on the opposite bank, may know more than they are admitting on what causes the spectacle.

But there is no denying the fact that there is something almost mystical that causes the fireballs to erupt from the surface of the river, and villagers are taking no chances, hence the religious activities at various temples in the district to appease the Naga.
Visitors can participate in a traditional "Tak Bat Thevo" ceremony, or the early morning alms giving to monks. It involves offering sticky rice wrapped in coconut leaves, presented on the important final days of the three-month Buddhist Lent.
In the evenings, during the festival week, people gather at the river bank for the Naga procession and cultural performance that reflect the rural village traditions of the northeast region.

If all goes to plan the highlight of the trip will be the amazing sight of the Naga fireballs erupting into the sky, a phenomenon that is very likely to prompt some light hearted banter and arguments at riverside food stalls over glasses of ale or the local rice whisky on their origin.

The most convenient way to reach Nong Khai is to take one of the many daily flights offered from Bangkok to Udon Thani, either on the national airline Thai Airways International, or one of the low-cost airlines. The flight takes 50 minutes and from Udon Thani, mini buses offer a 40 minute transfer to Nong Khai. An alternative is to take the rail service that runs every evening from Bangkok to Nong Khai.

Contact :

TAT Udon Thani, Tel. : 66 (0) 4232 5406-7
Nong Khai Provincial Administration Office, Tel. : 66 (0) 4242 0323
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