In about a month, on October 17th, it will be Khao Phansa, the festival that marks the first day of Buddhist Lent. This will be celebrated throughout Thailand but there are some more important events than others that I will list in this article and you will find in the “Festival in Thailand“ section of the site.
What is “Buddhist Lent”?
The domination of “Lent” is little misleading because this period of the Buddhist calendar has nothing to do with fasting like during the Christian Lent. In fact, it is about the period of 3 months of retreat of the monks who pass it in their temple in study and in meditation. This retreat is based on an edict from the Lord Buddha issued to ensure that the monks do not go to damage the crops or accidentally crush the insects, hidden in the flood waters. They are therefore under house arrest in their temple.
However, some Thais during Vassavasa (the rainy retreat) and avoid drinking alcohol, eating meat and smoking tobacco but it gets lost a lot.
On the first day, Khao Phansa, literally meaning “to enter” (khao) in this period called phansa, takes place the day after Asanha Bucha Day , the full moon day of the eighth lunar month, which celebrates, the day that Buddha delivered his first sermon to his first five disciples after attaining enlightenment.
There are many important festivals that are organized throughout Thailand, these two days in the month, the day before, Asanha Bucha and the first day of the rainy season’s retreat, Khao Phansa.
This year, Asanha Bucha will be held on July 16, 2019 and Khao Phansa on July 17, 2019.
Khao Phansa Festivals 2019
Candle Festival of Ubon Ratcthani
Date: 16-17 July 2019
Main Location: Thung Si Mueang Park
The candle festivals and their parade of wax sculpture floats are one of the main traditions of Thailand’s North and East Thailand (Isan) of Khao Phansa .
And in these festivals, the biggest and best known is that of Ubon Ratchathani . The festival will be held on 16th and 17th July 2019 with a parade on the evening of the 16th and another on the 17th early morning near the Thung Si Mueang Park.
If you want to see the preparations and sculpture of the wax tanks that will participate in the event, it will be necessary to go there a few days before. According to the local TAT office, most of the work will be done from 10th to 12th July.
Nakhon Ratchasima Candle procession
Date: 16-17 July 2019
Location: Thao Suranari Monument
At the Thao Suranari monument in Mueang Korat , there will be a wax candle contest, a candle parade and merit activities. Organized every year to promote local art and culture, the festival will also feature a number of cultural activities, including the Khon Theater, a traditional masked dance performance.
There will be especially a nocturnal parade on July 16th and around the city on the 17th from 9am.
Nakhon Phanom Candle Festival
Date: July 17, 2019
Location: Wat Phra That Phanom
The Laotian-influenced culture of Nakhon Phanom gives a different twist to the Khao Phansa celebrations in the city. The festival focuses on the iconic Wat Phra That Phanom local pagoda and there is always a beautifully carved candle procession and the Miss Candle Festival.
Aquatic Phansa in Ayutthaya
Date: July 16, 2019 at 8:30 am
Location: Lad Chado Market, Ayutthaya
The ancient capital of Ayutthaya hosts spectacular Khao Phansa celebrations with candles being taken to local temples in more than 200 colorful boats that descend the ancient Lad Chado Canal. Visitors can also enjoy a taste of rural life, beauty pageants and local games.
This is the big ceremony closest to Bangkok.
Suphanburi Candle procession
Date: 16-17 July 201 9
Location: Wat Pa Laylai Woraviharn, Rua Yai Tambon, Mueang Suphan Buri
Students from local art colleges compete to set up the most impressive candle exhibitions. There are huge sculptures representing creatures and heroes of Thai myth and these are proudly walked in the city. Visitors can also discover exhibitions on the lifestyles of local tribal people and enjoy folk dances.
Saraburi Khao Phansa Festival
Date: 16-17 July 2019
Location: Wat Phra Putthabat Ratchaworamahaviharn, Saraburi
During Khao Phansa in Saraburi, people visit the local Buddha footprint sanctuary at Wat Phra Buddhabat Woramahaviharn where yellow and white flowers are offered to monks (Tak Bat Dok Mai) as a means of doing merit. It has become a big event and now thousands of people are joining to give alms to the monks as they climb the steep stairs of the sanctuary.
Nan Candle Festival
Date: July 17th, 2019
Location: Bunyuen Royal Temple, Wiang Sa District, Nan
Visitors can join the locals by offering food to the monks in the morning. Later in the day, they can join in the alms of candles at the temple and take part in other meritorious activities that offer insights into Thai Buddhist culture.
Su Thong Pae Bridge
I do not know if it will take place this year, because there was an accident with the collapse of a part of the bridge that contained too many people a year, but near Mae Hong Song , on the Su Thong Pae Bridge , a A charming bamboo bridge across the rice fields, there was a tradition of offering to the monks in the morning of Khao Phansa at 6am and at 6:30 pm, the bridge was lined with candles to guide people to the temple. If it still happens, the setting is beautiful and I imagine the bridge has been strengthened.
I do not have confirmation for this year but there was also a small candle parade in Pattaya from the Beach Road to the Walking Street.
I am obviously not exhaustive, I concentrated mainly on the most important festivals but there will be events and especially great ceremonies of offerings everywhere in the country. For my part, I think going to Ubon Ratchathani, since the time that I want to go see their big festival of candles!