Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kathin Festival

Last weekend (Oct. 29 – 31) was the celebration of Kathin, a Buddhist festival celebrated in Northeast Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It is the culmination of Kao-pan-sa, which takes place the previous 3 months (August – October), when monks stay in the wat. It is said that Buddha started the tradition of the monks staying in so they would not step in the rice fields as the rice was getting ready to harvest. It included two parades – one through town and one to the wat – with monks, money trees, musicians, and Thai dancing. It included early morning prayers with monks blessing the occasion and lots of food. It included an evening of Thai dancing and karaoke with men buying the opportunity to dance with Thai women. Each event was another opportunity for the community to make merit and the monks/wat to make money. It is the biggest money making festival for the monks/wat of the year. In addition to money, people made merit by giving the monks pillows, blankets, food, toiletries and household items. It was an exhausting 3 days with no time off on the weekend. Even the Thais were glad when it was over!

Monday morning, everyone brought their sticky rice containers and walked in front of each monk (9 that morning) and put a handful in each monk's container. This photo is a perfect example of old and new Thailand!

For most of the events, the women wore traditional Thai.

One of the parades with the band and dancers.

The monks in the parade.

Counting the baht after each event.

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