Students from Pattaya’s 11 public schools competed to decorate the most beautiful and creative Buddhist Lent candles before joining the festive Asalaha Bucha parade through Pattaya.
The July 31 procession carried the candles on lavish floats down Beach Road where they were parked near Walking Street for display. More than 100 people participated in the parade, as crowds swelled along sidewalks from Central Road to Walking Street to see the floats and costumed marchers.
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and Deputy Mayor Wattana Chantanawaranon lead the parade to Sawangfa Phritharam Temple in Naklua.
Pattaya School No. 1 won the top prize for most beautiful candle and 20,000 baht. School No. 2 took the 15,000 baht second prize and Photisampan Pittayakarn School took third and 10,000 baht.
In the creative category, Pattaya School No. 6 won the 20,000 baht first prize, with School No. 9 placing second for 15,000 baht and School No. 3 winning third and 10,000 baht.
Nongprue Mayor Mai Chaiyanit (center right), and Wat Suthawat School Principal Somchok Yindeesuk (left) donate lent candles to the abbot of Wat Suthawat.
Prizes were awarded for parade floats as well, with Pattaya School No. 11 deemed the best and awarded 10,000 baht. School No. 9 won 8,000 baht for second and Photisampan Pittayakarn School 5,000 baht for third.
Lent candles are longer and larger than normal candles placed in temples from the start of Buddhist Lent till the end. The Buddhist Lent candle ceremony originated more than 2,600 years ago and is a long-established tradition in Thailand.
Jeerasak Jitsom, director of Pattaya School #5, representing the teaching committee, presents Lent candles to Wat Nong Or.
The Lent candle parade, too, is entrenched in society. It calls for the cooperation of community residents in making and donating the candles. Floats are decorated with items found or made locally and dances are based on local traditions.
Elsewhere About 300 Pattaya students marched in Buddhist Lent candle parades to benefit monks at Nong Or Temple.
Pattaya School No. 1 won the top prize for most beautiful candle in the Jul 31 parade down Beach Road.
About 200 pupils and teachers from Arunothai School paraded the kilometer from their Soi Arunothai school to the temple, with the marching band and a Hanuman mascot leading the way. The event was sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Pattaya office.
Later that day, about 100 kids from Pattaya School No. 5 paraded to the temple to present a lent candle to monks there. Principal Jeerasak Jitsom also directed the students to present the monks with basic necessities before sitting down to listen to an Asalaha Day sermon.
Teachers and students of Wat Suthawat School march in the candle parade to present it to the abbot of Wat Suthawat.
In Nongprue, Mayor Mai Chaiyanit and Deputy Mayor Anek Panttangam lit the way for Wat Suthawat School Principal Somchok Yindeesuk, teachers and students Aug. 1 in a Buddhist Lent candle parade for Suthawat Temple. Fifty groups from 13 neighborhoods took part in the march from the Chalermprakiet intersection to the Nongprue football stadium.
“All 13 communities from Nongprue are determined to preserve this important tradition of Buddhist Lent by making candles and presenting gifts, suitable for alms, to various temples to set an example and instill awareness for our children and grandchildren to have faith in continuing Buddhist traditions, a important institution of Thailand,” Anek said.
Women dressed in Thai traditional costumes performing ancient Thai dances are another tradition of the candle parade that has been preserved.
In Naklua, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome led Deputy Mayor Wattana Chantanawaranon, Education Office bureaucrats, teachers and students from Pattaya School No. 3 in an Aug. 1 Buddhist Lent candle parade, led by Thappraya 2301 volunteer squad cars, for Sawangfa Phritharam Temple.
Student dancers outfitted in traditional dresses performed classical moves and the marching band played Mahoreee Samchaa as the procession made its way to the Sawangfa sermon hall.
Teacher Thawee Kraithaisong presented candles and cash to Abbot Phiphat Jariyathum. The mayor and council members also gave candles, incense and flowers to monks and poured holy water.
Arunothai students perform ancient Thai classical dance in the parade to Wat Nong Or.
In Sattahip, Mayor Phawat Lertmukda led former mayor Narong Boonbanjerdsri, members of Sattahip’s cultural council, along with city officials, schools and the general public in a Buddhist Lent candle parade around Sattahip market to Wat Sattahip.
Lert Punya School won the annual best candle contest with one carved depicting the King of Nagas.
Finally, on August 3 at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens, Sattahip Mayor Phawat Lertmukda along with Najomtien PAO Head Sornchai Thongyangyuen and Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens director Kampol Tansajja, led the annual candle parade around the tropical gardens.
This year’s theme was “Isaan Arts heritage, Buddhism heritage, Buddhist Lent” and featured a 2-meter tall candle with carvings of 2 beautiful swans, with 2 beautiful girls dressed in traditional Thai clothes sitting next to the candle.
The candle was followed by performers adorned in Isaan clothes performing Nang Thue Ton Thien (girl carrying candle), Nang Fon Nareesri Isaan (girl dancing to Isaan folk music), Nang Thue Khan Maak Peng (girl holding traditional green bouquet of flowers) and Salieng Bai Sri reflecting Thai traditions, followed by 14 elephants.
Elephants and a giant candle are centerpieces at the Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens parade.
Lert Punya School in Sattahip won the annual best candle contest with one carved depicting the King of Nagas.