Buddhist Lent or Buddhist Rains Retreat, which generally falls in October, is marked by a number of ceremonies and religious activities in numerous provinces throughout Thailand. In Mae Hong Son, the end of the traditional Buddhist Rains Retreat is marked on 20-22 October with the colourful Chong Para Festival which celebrates the Lord Buddha’s return from heaven. Towers made from wood or plastic are decorated with colourful paper and fruit and carried in a procession through town to the local temple.
The Rap Bua Festival (meaning Lotus Receiving Festival) held in Samut Prakan on 23 October is another activity to mark the end of the Buddhist Rain Retreat. During the festival, thousands of people line the banks of the Samrong canal to throw lotus flowers onto a boat carrying the image of Buddha.
Also marking the Buddhist Lent is the Sakon Nakhon Wax Candle Festival, this year taking place from 21-24 October. During the festival temples across the province will join hands in making elaborate wax candles that they carry in procession through the municipality of Wat Phra That Cherngchum Woravihara to welcome the Buddha back from heaven.
Another interesting religious event in October is the Um Pra Dam Nam festival which takes place every year in Phetchabun province. This year held on 8 October, the ceremony marks the discovery more than 400 years ago of Phra Buddha Mahadhamaracha, a highly revered image of Buddha. It is said that the Buddha image disappeared twice from the temple and was found in the water, leading villagers to believe that the Buddha image had wandered out by itself. During the ceremony, the Buddha image is immersed in Pasak river by the governor of Phatchabun.
October also offers plenty of outlets for those wanting to test their fitness. On 6 October, Pattana Fun Run allows people of all fitness levels to compete on a 5km distance in Chonburi province. The following day, on 7 October 2018, the Pattana Triathlon will take participants through a more gruelling 1.8km swim, 87.5km bike race and 20km run around the province. Bike Challenge Ratchaburi 2018 held on 21 October allows individual participants to compete across three distances, 100km, 60m and 8km while teams can compete in a relay of 4x25km.
Those more interested in watching the fun rather than participating themselves should get tickets to the One Championship event ONE: Kingdom of Heroes which will see Thai boxing hero Srisaket Sor Rungvisai fight Iran “MagnifiKO” Diaz of Mexico for the WBC Super Flyweight World Championship at Impact Arena in Bangkok.
Another high adrenaline event is the Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival on 23 October. Combining the best of sports and entertainment, the festival is an explosion of power and colour as buffalos decorated with flower garlands race against each other and compete to be crowned the funniest and most beautiful buffalo.
For a different – and faster – race, head to Chang International Circuit in Buriram province on 5-7 October for the Thailand MotoGP Grand Prix. The event marks the first ever MotoGP held in Thailand after the country has successfully hosted the WSBK Championship.
For those who love bird watching, head to Chumpon province during the month of October for a change to see hundreds of thousands of birds as they migrate sometimes thousands of miles to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia or even Australia. The province, which is uniquely positioned on the route also has a raptor exhibition where visitors can learn more about the different birds and their migrating routes.
Lastly, October is also the month of the highly popular Vegetarian Festival. With roots in the nine-day Taoist Nine Emperor Gods celebration, the festival originated in the Chinese communities in Southeast Asia but has since spread to the general population and many Buddhists also celebrate the festival these days. Particularly popular on Phuket, where a number of unusual religious rituals are performed, including mutilations, the festival sees restaurants throughout the country adapt their menus to observe the festival.
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Published: Sep 2018
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