Thai Name: วันออกพรรษา
Date: 13th October 2019 | 1st October 2020
A busy time on the Thailand event calendar, the Ok Phansa festival is celebrated on the full moon of the 11th lunar month or October and marks the end of the Buddhist Lent. It is a time of celebration and merit-making with different events and activities held throughout the country in different provinces.
Among the most famous events for Ok Phansa are:
- The Saraburi Long-boat Race Festival, which dates back to the golden age of the Ayutthaya era and features thrilling long boat-races on the Pasak River.
- The Buffalo Racing Festival in Chonburi. With their jockeys clinging on, buffaloes race at surprisingly quick speeds in what is also a celebration of this animal’s exalted status in the agricultural arena. [MORE]
- The Rub Bua Festival, an ancient Buddhist tradition of the local people of Bang Phli district in Samut Prakan. Where the highlight is a magnificent barge procession of a replica of the Luangpho To Buddhist image along Khlong Samrong. [MORE]
- In Saraburi, a parade of monks and people wearing clothes that mimick angels, is held along with the Devo almsgiving ceremony at Wat Buddhachai Temple. Dried food, sticky rice and fruit are given to the monks. A large group of people perform a traditional dance during the ceremony.
- A ceremony celebrating the end of the annual rains retreat is held at Wat Chet Riu in Chet Riu Sub-district of Ban Phaeo District in Samut Sakhon. On this occasion, residents give alms and wash the feet of Buddhist monks. The unique ceremony has been passed down for over a century. During the event, local people usually wear white and also present lotus along with an alms offering.
- In Ratchaburi Province, a number of local residents and tourists line up overnight to give alms to monks at midnight in the Midnight Alms Giving ceremony at Wat Yai Nakhon Chum in Ban Pong District. Legend has it that the Upagupta Buddhist monk would come to bless the locals at dawn. Ratchaburi residents believe that giving alms at that hour will bring them good fortune.
- In Wiset Chaichan district in Ang Thong province, families come together to give alms to monks at Wat Nang Cham. Part of the tradition is to give allowance to children at the temple, as a way of encouraging the young to take part in the almsgiving activity.
- In Trat, the provincial governor lead state officials and local residents in the local almsgiving activity, as part of a religion promotional initiative that translates roughly as “Governors Take You To Temple”. This activity is held at Wat Bang Prue in the provincial capital.
- In Uthai Thani, 500 monks descend 449 steps from the top of Sakae Krang Mountain before arriving at Wat Sangkat Rattanakhiri Temple to participate in the Tak Bat Thewo almsgiving ceremony. People also offered sticky rice and dried food items to the monks. [MORE]
- In Chiang Mai, residents and tourists alike wear white and give alms to 99 monks and novices at the Grand Pavilion at the Royal Park Rajapruek . The attendees also donate money to cover the cost of education and medical bills of monks in Mae Hia Sub-district.
- In Chiang Rai, Buddhist residents and tourists to the province gIve alms to monks at a minute after midnight, or the 15th day of the 11th lunar month. The practice of almsgivings constitutes a major part of the Buddhist faith, and is believed to bring good fortune through merit making. The tradition of the midnight almsgiving in Chiang Rai incorporates elements of the Lanna culture. Participants carrying rice and dried food, lined both sides of the road from the entrance of Wat Ming Muang to the Chiang Rai Clock Tower.
- Similarly in Nan province, local residents participate in the midnight almsgiving for monks at Wat Koo Kam. Giving alms at the end of Buddhist Lent, also known among the Lanna people as Peng Pud, is believed to bring good fortune and success.
- The famous Naga Fireball World Festival. One of the more mysterious of events on the Thailand events calendar, this centers around the as yet unexplained fireballs that annually erupt into the sky from the Mekong River. [MORE]
- In Nong Khai, a large number of residents and tourists gather to give alms in the Tak Bat Devo festival to monks from Wat Siri Maha Katchai , Wat Udom Mahawan , Wat Pho Sri Wat Yod Kaeo Wat Pradit Thammakhun Wat Sri Khun Mueang Wat Si Mueang and Wat Chai Porn .
- Similarly, in Nakhon Phanom, the Tak Bat Devo alms giving event held at the Naga Monument in the Muang Nakhon Phanom Municipality with a large number of participants honoring the merit-making event.
- The Nakhon Phanom Illuminated Boat Procession in which locals float the Lai Reua Fai or illuminated boats down the Mekong River. Loaded with food, flowers, incense sticks, candles and handmade lanterns, the boats make a spectacular sight. [MORE]
- The Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival with amazing wax sculptures on display and long-boat races on Nong Han Reservoir. The intricate sculptures in the form of entire cities, elaborate deities and shrines are paraded around town and are helping to gain increased international recognition for this event. [MORE]
- In Roi Et, locals mark the end of Buddhist Lent with a regional tradition called Guan Khao Thip or stirring of the sacred rice. The tradition results in a dish containing 108 different ingredients that is distributed among the temples of Roi Et.
- Ubon Ratchathani marks the end of Buddhist Lent with a procession, rounding the chapel of its central temple three times with two sacred trees used in place of a wax castle.
- In Roi Et province, local residents hold a Kuan Khao Thip ceremony at Bueng Phalan Chai, the lake at the heart of the provincial capital with an island that contains the city pillar shrine. The Kuan Khao Thip ceremony involves creating a large batch of rice porridge, stirred with oars. The porridge will be distributed as alms to the monks of various temples in the municipality.
- The Surat Thani Chak Phra Festival and Boat Races on the Tapi Riverbank and Naris Bridge. Floral floats shaped into mythical creatures from Buddhist folklore go on parade, while the boat races attract teams from several Southern provinces.
- In Nakhon Si Thammarat, residents of Lim Lam Num Tha Num Dee Community participate in an ancient ceremony known among the locals as Lak Phra Thang Num at Wat Phattasema Temple. During the ceremony, an Ayutthaya-period Buddha statue, Phra Issarachai , is carried from the temple and placed on a beautifully decorated barge which is then pulled into the river and along the waterway.
- Buddhists in the far South gather in Yala province to participate in a Chak Phra ceremony, marking the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat. The event attracts around 50 boats carrying monks from various temples in the restive south as well as from Songkhla province.
- In Songkhla province, local people paraded a sacred cloth through the municipal area before using it to wrap the province’s central pagoda. The activity also includes a mass alms-giving, undertaken to bring merit to all participants.
- In the north, Nan locals give alms at midnight in accordance with Lanna beliefs that once or twice a year the Lord Buddha emerges during the night to offer blessings.
- Buddhists in the predominantly Muslim Yala province go shopping for flowers, curries, and sweets to give as alms. Military and police officers, as well as security volunteers, keep a watchful eye on activities to ensure public safety during this religious event.