The Dan Sai Municipality will organise a celebration to worship Phrathat Sri Song Rak in Loei’s Dan Sai district from tomorrow to Monday.

The annual event is organised on the Full Moon day of the sixth lunar month. The date falls on Monday this year.

Located on a hill by the bank of Man River, Phrathat Sri Song Rak is one of the highly revered stupas in the Northeast. The history dates back to the year 1560 when the white stupa was built to indicate the goodwill between Maha Chakkraphat of Ayutthaya and King Chai Chetthathirath of Lan Xang (now part of Laos).

The pagoda is 19.19m tall and its square base is 10.89m wide. It is located in Wat Phrathat Sri Song Rak, about 90km from Loei airport.

The four-day event will feature a cleaning day in which worshippers will cleanse the pagoda, a mass ordination ceremony, bang fai (a rocket festival) and Hae Ton Phueng (a procession of trees of beeswax flowers).

Ton phueng is made from banana trunks folded in a pyramid shape and adorned with wax flowers. Every year locals make a 2m-tall ton phueng for the procession. Those who join the parade will carry their ton phueng to pay homage to Phrathat.

If you want to join the ceremony, there are two rules to follow. First, women can join the offering but are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum around the stupa. Second, you should not bring any red items including red flowers, a red bag or red shirt or even red dots on your T-shirt as locals believe that the red colour is a symbol of blood and violence. Be reminded that Phrathat Sri Song Rak is the symbol of good friendship.

For more details, call Dan Sai Municipality at 042-891-231 or the Tourism of Thailand Loei’s Office at 042-812-812.

Loei farmers honour ancestors

Also organised in Loei province is the Phi Khon Nam festival. The three-day event is organised annually on the third day after the Full Moon of the sixth lunar month. This year the event will be hosted from April 27-29 in Na Sao village in Chiang Khan district.

Phi Khon Nam Festival (Photo: Karnjana Ayuwatanachai)

The Phi Khon Nam (or hairy water ghost) is a ceremony for farmers to pay homage to the spirits of their ancestors, to show gratitude to their buffaloes for their hard labour and to ask for enough rain for rice farming.

The villagers will wear smiley ghost wooden masks, which may look like a buffalo with big ears and horns (a different design of Phi Ta Khon ghost mask of Dan Sai district). They will don costumes made from a long-sleeved shirts and coloured fabric strips to resemble buffaloes. They also wear wooden buffalo bells around their hips.

The ceremony will start at the village’s spirit shrine, where villagers pay homage to the spirits of their ancestors. Then they will go to Wat Pho Sri to make merit. The procession will start from the temple for Phi Khon Nam, dancing to drums and khaen (reed mouth organ). The parade will move along the road of the village and will end at the temple.

For more information, call Ban Na Sao Cultural Centre at 042-855-132.

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