MHS Festivals

Mae Hong Son Festival Calendar

February

(duan sam) The people celebrate the tradition of khao ya goo by giving out red sticky rice parcels. They make these by steaming the sticky (glutinous) rice and mixing it with sugar cane, coconut and peanuts. They take the rice cakes to the temple to make offerings and also give them out to their friends and neighbors.

April

(duan see)

Poi Sang Long Procession

The celebration of novice ordination which the Thai Yai tribe people hold to be a highly meritorious occasion. Traditionally, the candidate-novice, his head cleanly shaven and wrapped with head-cloth in the Burmese style, will don a prince-like garment and put on valuable jewels and gems, and ride a horse or be carried over the shoulders of a man to the city shrine. On the ordination eve, a procession of offerings and other necessary personal belongings will be paraded through the town streets and then placed at the monastery where the ordination will take place the next day. It is usually held during March-May before the Buddhist Rain Retreat period.

Songkran

There is the festival of Songkran, during which time the people prepare food and offerings to take to make merit at the temples. This is the nationwide water throwing mayhem where everyone goes a little bit crazy in the heat of summer!

June

(duan hok)

Poi Ja Dee

the festival of Poi Ja Dee is the time that people collect sand and take it to the temples to make little chedis in the temple grounds during the time of the full moon and they all join together to make merit.

July, August and September

(duan jet, gao, sip)

Dang Som Doh Long

The tradition of Dang Som Doh Long consists of making offerings of specially prepared food for the older people who are spending the Buddhist Lent months in the temples.

October

(duan sip)

Hen Som Go Ja

The festival of Hen Som Go Ja consists of making offerings to relatives who have already passed away. There are also celebrations to mark the end of the Lent season, or Jong Para. During the evening the people make processions carrying hand made castle like structures (to welcome the Buddha back from heaven where he went during the Lent season to visit his mother) to the temples, or else place them outside their homes to bring merit to their families. During these ceremonies there is music and dancing. Mostly the dancing is done by dancers dressed up as mythological creatures, such as the mythological half bird-half human ginaree and the mythological yak, which is held by two dancers, rather like a pantomime horse.

Chong Phara Procession

The Chong Phara in the Thai Yai dialect means a castle made of wood, covered with colourful perforated papers and decorated with fruits, flags and lamps. It is placed in the courtyard of a house or a monastery as a gesture to welcome the Lord Buddha on his return from giving sermons to his mother in heaven, according to traditional belief. Other activities to celebrate the occasion include dances where performers are dressed in animal costumes. The rite is held during the post rain retreat season from the full-moon day of the 11th Lunar month (around October) to the waxing moon night of the same month.

November

(duan sip et)

Bua Tong Blossom Festival

Each year in November, the hillsides of Khun Yuam and Mae Sariang districts are filled with a host of golden Bua Tong Blooms. As bright as a daisy and almost as large as a sunflower, the Bua Tong only blossoms for a month. At Doi Mae U-Kho, the blossoms appear profusely. Scientists classified these Bua Tong as weeds and because of this, it was thought they may be cleared to make way for cash crops. Fortunately a group of researchers have since discovered the flower’s insect-repellent properties. Therefore, the Bua Tong, a symbol of Mae Hong Son, is still preserved on the hillsides.

Loi Krathong Festival

Loi Krathong Festival is held on the full moon night in the month of November every year. Villagers make “krathongs” to float in rivers. At Nong Chong Kham, various entertainments and a contest of large krathongs are held near the central pond. Lamps and candles are lit all around the area. Moreover, at Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, there is a ceremony of releasing candle-lit krathongs bound with balloons to the sky (known as “Loi Krathong Sawan”).

December

(Shan people call this month duan jeng) and January (duan gum) During the cold winter months after the rice has all been harvested, the local people make;

  • khao lam, which is a sweet made from rice cooked inside bamboo tubes
  • khao buk, which is steamed sticky rice pounded with sesame seeds

These sweets are made as offerings to Buddha and also to give out to friends and neighbors. During this time there are no specific religious festivals.

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