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Inthakin celebrations held to celebrate Chiang Mai Pillar

World Lychee Fair promotes tasty seasonal fruit

Loei offers high spirits this June

Myanmar grants visa-on-arrival

Inthakin celebrations held to celebrate Chiang Mai Pillar

A young Chiang Mai family takes part in the time honored rituals to pay respects to the Chiang Mai City Pillar.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew

A traditional ceremony to pay respect to the Chiang Mai City Pillar, the Inthakin Pillar, started May 10 with a spectacular light and sound show.

Deputy Governor Pairote Saengphuwong, accompanied by high ranking officials attended the khan dok ceremony to present offerings of bowls of flowers, incense sticks and candles to the Inthakin Pillar, held annually at Wat Chedi Luang Worawiharn in Muang District.

The ceremony is a long held tradition important to Chiang Mai residents. People who attended the ceremony attributed the hour long rainfall before the ceremony as a result of the power of Phra Chao Fon Saenha.

The ceremony began with a grand parade carrying the Phra Chao Fon Saenha Buddha image, with Inthakin offerings, along the city roads to end at Wat Chedi Kuang.

Deputy Governor Pairote presided over the opening ceremony by hitting a victory gong, and then lit the candles and incense sticks, sprinkled holy water, and offered all 32 khan dok (bowls of candles, scent sticks, and flowers) marking the worshiping ceremony to the Inthakin City Pillar. This ceremony is held to ask for normal seasonal rainfall.

The highlight of the ceremony was to sprinkle holy water and place the ‘khan dok’ on the city pillar. The light and sound show was held for 7 days and 7 nights in front of the grand chedi, and at the Inthakin Pole House in Wat Chedi Luang, ending May 17.

The Inthakin City Pillar was built in the regime of King Kawila and renovated in the era of Khru Bah Sriwichai, the holy man of the Lanna Kingdom many years ago.

During the festival, people in white clothes brought flowers, incense sticks, and candles to put in one or more of 32 bowls, and then placed in front of the Phra Attharos, the main Buddha image which is housed in the Buddha image hall at the temple. After that they sprinkle holy water onto the Phra Chao Fonsaenha Buddha image, followed by alms giving to make merit, so as to bring luck and prosperity.

World Lychee Fair promotes tasty seasonal fruit

Nopniwat Krailerg

The World Lychee Fair in Chiang Mai is on until May 23 at the Big C Arena in Don Chan. Organized by the Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture Office, the Farmers Network Group and the Lychee Growers Group, the event is promoting this tasty seasonal fruit to residents and tourists from Thailand and around the world.

Pretty Chiang Mai models promote the lychee festival in Chiang Mai.

With a 16 million baht budget to promote the fruit, the fair is offering fresh fruit straight from the orchards and dried lychee products.

The Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities and a working committee on fruits in the North have set aside a budget to help lychee growers distribute this year’s 7,000 tons of lychee products to consumers.

Thani Thammasuwan, the Assistant Chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture Office said lychee production in Chiang Mai this year has dropped by more than 40 percent due to unseasonably warm weather in the cool season which resulted in lychee trees producing less flowers than last year, and so, less fruit.

He noted that this year’s production was about 16,052 tons, 11,870 tons less than last year’s production. Most of the lychee fruits are produced in orchards in Fang, Chai Prakan, Mae Ai, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng and Muang districts, on about 44,892 rai of land.

About 5,958 tons of fruit have already been harvested. China makes up the largest export market for Thai lychees, with a total of about 8,000 tons being exported annually.


Loei offers high spirits this June

Phi Ta Khon Festival in Dan Sai

The Phi Ta Khon festival is unique to the Dan Sai district in Loei Province and reflects the local Isaan belief in ghosts and spirits. Held once a year, it is part of a grand merit-making festival known as the “Boon Luang” festival.

The origins of the Phi Ta Khon Festival can be found in the tale of Lord Buddha’s last great incarnation before attaining Enlightenment. In Buddhist accounts, it is said that when Prince Vessandara, the Buddha’s penultimate incarnation, returned to his city, it was such a joyous occasion that the village spirits came forth to join the welcoming parade. This very colorful and vibrant Phi Ta Khon procession is the central focus of the celebrations.

In a lively re-enactment of the tale, the young men of the community dress up as “spirits” wearing long trailing costumes made from colorful strips of cloth sewn together.

The hideous-looking Phi Ta Khon mask which is made of dried sticky rice husk is painted in bright red, green or other colors, and features the characteristic long pointed nose. This completes the transformation. The clanging sound of the square cowbells worn around the waist announces the presence of the spirits who wield phallic-shaped long-handled swords decorated with red paint. The good-natured, fun-loving spirits mingle among the crowd, teasing and amusing all who take part in the procession. Spectators and visitors are welcome to join in the fun.

There are two types of “spirits” featured in the Phi Ta Khon procession: “Phi Ta Khon Yai” (the supreme Phi Ta Khon), and the “Phi Ta Khon Lek” (the ones that are commonly found). The making of the Phi Ta Khon Yai involves the performance of a sacred ritual to seek the blessings of the supreme powers before work on the Phi Ta Khon Yai masks can be initiated. It is also a task reserved exclusively for the descendants of families in which the tradition of making Phi Ta Khon masks has been practiced for several generations. The Phi Ta Khon Yai is made of bamboo and is dressed in either male or female attire.

The Phi Ta Khon Festival runs from June 12 to 14 in the Dan Sai District of Loei Province. (TAT)

Myanmar grants visa-on-arrival

Sirima Eamtako,
TTG Asia

Visa-on-arrival (VOA) is now available at Yangon and Mandalay International Airports for nationals of more than 100 countries with which Myanmar has diplomatic ties. Previously, visas must be arranged in advance before arrival.

All Asia Exclusive Travel managing director Phyoe Wai Yar Zar said, “On May 1, four visitors from the Philippines were granted VOA for the first time.”

A tourist VOA costs US$30 for a 28-day stay, business VOA US$40 for a 70-day stay, social VOA US$40 for a 28-day and a transit visa US$18 for 24-hour stay.

Visitors must stay at government-approved accommodation establishments, with the exact address to be stated in the application form.

Children under seven years of age travelling with the parents are exempted from visa fees.

An individual traveler must show he has at least US$300 (or the equivalent in another currency) on hand to Immigration, as proof he can sustain himself during his visit; a family must take out a wad of US$600 to show the officer.