The annual Bun Bang Fai Festival, the superstition of firing locally-made bamboo rockets towards the heavens in hopes of beckoning the rain-gods before crop season, will be taking place across local communities in Thailand’s Northeastern Region, or Isan, with its biggest showcase appearing in Yasothon.
The Yasothon Bun Bang Fai Festival usually falls in the middle of May, or just before the start of rainy season and crop planting. This year, the event will take place from 11-13 May.
On the first day, villagers will bring their homemade bamboo rockets to pay respect to the city’s pillar shrine. On the second day, there will be a Buddhist merit-making ceremony, followed by a spectacular procession of Bang Fai floats and folk dances that represent teams from local villages or temples. This will conclude with another ritual to pay respect to the city’s pillar shrine.
The final day will again start with a Buddhist merit-making ceremony, followed by another procession of Bang Fai floats and folk dances but will conclude at Phaya Thaen Park. Here villagers will fire homemade bamboo rockets into the skies with the belief that their prayers for abundant rain and a bountiful harvest will be answered.
What started from simple rockets made from bamboo has evolved into feats of rockets mounted on scaffolding to giant spinning wheels. There’re many different types of rocket, which can be classified by the weight of gunpower it carries. ‘Bang Fai Kilo’ means the rocket carries one kilogramme of gunpower, while ‘Bang Fai Muen’ carries 12 kilogrammes and ‘Bang Fai Saen’ carries 120 kilogrammes.
Throughout the three-day event, visitors can enjoy the preparation and rehearsal of Bang Fai parades by different local villages. There will be displays of several rockets shooting, including the auspicious inaugural Bang Fai, fortune Bang Fai, fancy rocket shooting and contest, and a competition for teams with the highest flying and most elaborate Bang Fai rockets.
Others highlights include a parade displaying beautifully-decorated Bang Fai floats, a Bang Fai folk song competition, a demonstration on how to hand-craft Bang Fai rockets, a display of ancient Bang Fai floats, a Bang Fai cheer squads competition, a Miss Bang Fai contest, a light-and-sound and multimedia show, and an exhibition on the legend of Yasothon Bun Bang Fai Festival.
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