Several friends told me not to go to the festival, too dangerous. They were right! There are the official launch pads where the big boys are lit and then in the surrounding rice fields there are all sorts of launchers and all sizes of rockets going off by all ages of boys. I was amazed no one got hurt. Over 50 rockets are officially entered in the contest, some by individuals and consortiums and some by the villages. The villagers are assessed a fee to help pay for the rocket – there is a lot of that for these different parades and festivals and people don’t seem to mind. I haven’t been asked and was told as a guest I would not be. Last year, in a different province, 4 people were killed by a wayward rocket. The judges have cameras and binoculars to watch when the rocket stops going up and starts going down. I don’t really get it. It was a very cloudy day and I certainly couldn’t tell, but every entry that went up got a time in seconds for how long it took to turn around. The highest score I saw was about 350 seconds. These rockets are fast, so that is very high. The day was a definite adrenalin rush!
Every boy had rockets in their pockets.
Getting a medium size rocket ready. Plants are used around the ties so the rockets stay in place but can easily slide out and up.
One of the big ones, you can get an idea of the scale by the men climbing around it getting it ready.