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Society Celebrations in Thailand


Bangkok

Songkran, the Thai New Year, is celebrated nationally from 12th to 14th April. In Bangkok, festivities take place at Sanam Luang, where a revered Buddha image is bathed as part of the merit-making rituals. Over the years, the festival has become a boisterous affair of water throwing. Few people escape getting soaked. Visakha Puja in May marks the birth, death and enlightenment of the Buddha. It is celebrated with candlelight processions around important temples. At the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, held at Sanam Luang in May, oxen and Brahmin priests predict the coming agricultural season. The Golden Mount Fair is the best chance to see a typical Thai temple fair, complete with fun fair, performers and candlelight processions. The Trooping of the Colours in the Royal Plaza is the best of many nationwide celebrations marking King Bhumibol's birthday.


 

Central Plains

Every July, pilgrims flock to the Temple of the Holy Footprint near Saraburi for the elaborate Phra Phutthabat Fair which features local theatre and folk music performances. Loi Krathong, the water-lantern festival, is celebrated nationwide on the full-moon night in November. People flock to waterways to launch small lotus-shaped vessels which float away the sins of the past year and bring good luck for the future. River Khwae Bridge Week Fair, held at Kanchanaburi in late November and early December, marks the building of the infamous bridge with historical displays and a dramatic sound and light show.  Northern Bo Sang is famous for its hand-painted umbrellas, and the Bo Sang Umbrella Fair in January features umbrella painting competitions, umbrella exhibitions, parades and a Miss Bo Sang beauty contest. At the Chiang Mai Festival of Flowers in February parades of lavish floral floats fill the northern capital with color. Mae Hong Son comes alive during the Poi Sang Long Festival in late March or early April, highlighted by a mass ordination ceremony for Shan boys wearing sumptuous costumes.


 


Northern

Bo Sang is famous for its hand-painted umbrellas, and the Bo Sang Umbrella Fair in January features umbrella painting competitions, umbrella exhibitions, parades and a Miss Bo Sang beauty contest. At the Chiang Mai Festival of Flowers in February parades of lavish floral floats fill the northern capital with color. Mae Hong Son comes alive during the Poi Sang Long Festival in late March or early April, highlighted by a mass ordination ceremony for Shan boys wearing sumptuous costumes.


Southern

Traditional Southern culture gets an airing at the Korlae Boat Racing & Narathiwat Produce Festival in late September, featuring races between brightly painted traditional fishing boats, dove-cooing contests, and performances of Southern music and dance. For sheer spectacle, it is hard to beat the Phuket Vegetarian Festival in early October. This nine-day event, marking the start of Taoist Lent, is celebrated by people of Chinese ancestry. During the festival followers eat only vegetarian food and take part in acts of self-mortification, such as piercing the body with skewers, with no apparent harm.

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