Starting next Thursday, the Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani will be launched to mark Khao Phansa Day, or the first day of the annual Buddhist Lent, which this year falls on July 25 and lasts three months.
Khao Phansa falls a day after Asanha Bucha or Dhamma Day. It was the day that Buddha gave his first teaching after enlightenment to his five followers more than 2,500 years ago. Asanha Bucha Day falls on the Full Moon day of the eighth lunar month, which is July 24 this year.
During Khao Phansa, monks are prohibited from travelling and staying overnight outside their temples so they concentrate more on studying dhamma and practising meditation.
Every year, Buddhists traditionally make merit for Khao Phansa Day by offering items monks may need including saffron robes and candles or light bulbs. Temples nationwide will normally organise events for people to make merit by purchasing a piece of paraffin wax to make big candles. The candles will be lit in a prayer hall throughout Buddhist Lent.
Although the practice of making big candles is quite common among temples in every part of Thailand, the event is an extravaganza in Ubon Ratchathani in the northeastern part of Thailand.
In previous years, local and international craftsmen participate in an event to create their masterpieces of wax candles. Each piece is about 11m long and 3m wide and decorated with fresh flowers.
The craftworks are carried by truck around the city, starting and ending in Thung Si Muang Park. Contests for the best and most beautiful candles are usually held.
Due to the pandemic, Ubon Ratchathani officials announced the cancellation of the wax candle procession and the carved candle exhibition in Thung Si Muang Park to avoid big gatherings of people.
This year, 11 communities will display their carved candles in their temples. Only local visitors are allowed on-site visits. Traditional dances will be performed online on July 25.
The Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani will be held from July 22-28. Those who are interested can view the event online via Ubon Candle app, which is available at apple.co/3hCe5mi) and bit.ly/2UJVCLL).
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