Friday, July 30, 2010

Khao Phansa candles - Chiang Mai


As the seasonal monsoon rains approach Northern Thailand, it marks the beginning of the Buddhist Lent, or "Khao Phansa", during which all Buddhist monks retreat to the temples for the duration of the rain (3 months) devoting themselves to study, meditation and spiritual renewal.
Apparently in former times, this was done to prevent monks from trampling upon rice paddies when they venture out to receive offerings from the villagers.

During this period, the locals engage in merit-making and bring offerings to the monks for their retreat. These offerings consist of dishes, household products, monk robes and these big yellow candles.
The candles are believed to provide them with illumination physically and spiritually. They are beautifully carved with flowers and dragon patterns and can last weeks.
This tradition evolved into full-scale festivals featured in the Buddhist calendar and Thailand's official calendar of festivals such as "The Candle Festival" of Ubon Ratchathani province, featuring a procession of magnificent ornately-carved beeswax candles of various shapes and sizes like boats or elephants. A contest is even held to award the most beautifully carved candles which can stay lit up to 3 months!

You can see on the photo the size of the candles compared to the walking man.

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