Songkran closes on traditional note in Pattaya

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The same cultural traditions that began Songkran in Pattaya heralded its close with the annual “kong khao” rice-piling festival.

Pattaya Mayor Anan Charoenchasri presided over the ceremony at Lan Po Public Park in Naklua with top city and district officials, police and tourism executives.

The April 20 event brought locals and tourists together for games, including slingshots, seaside Muay Thai boxing, puppet shows and oily post climbing.

The witchdoctor or ceremony leader walks around and sprinkles water on the gathered masses before the food offering takes place.
The witchdoctor or ceremony leader walks around and sprinkles water on the gathered masses before the food offering takes place.
Angels from above give out gifts from the spirits.
Angels from above give out gifts from the spirits.
Youngsters take part in the tradition as ghosts & spirits.
Youngsters take part in the tradition as ghosts & spirits.
Community members lay out food and desserts to appease the spirits.
Community members lay out food and desserts to appease the spirits.

Attendees dressed as angels and fairies to parade around the neighborhood, followed by a few dressed as devils to represent fear. They came hungry for meat and desserts people put out according to ancient traditions. Offerings of meat and sweets were made out of belief that giving to the spirits without relatives is to make merit and prosperity for oneself and family.

Deputy Mayor Bandit Khunajak hosted another rice festival at Nongyai Temple while Mayor Mai Chaiyanit did likewise at a festival in the Mabyailia Community.

The kong khao festival is a polite, traditional way to herald the start of the Thai New Year. Thais believe it will ward off evil spirits and the song, dance and good feelings will usher in a year of prosperity and good luck.

Residents from all corners of Pattaya offered food, sweets and beverages in a “pile” before inviting the spirits for a feast. As every year, partakers put on a play and dressed up, Ghoulies, gods, witches and so forth and swarm out to enjoy the offerings.

By feeding the spirits, the residents believe that they will no long hold a grudge against the living as they are not ignored and return to the realms with a full tummy.

Monks sprinkled holy water on participants for well wishes and good fortune. Later, indigent locals were invited to join the feast together before the entertainment began.

Sand pagodas are created for spirits to stay for the night if needed at Wat Suttawas.
Sand pagodas are created for spirits to stay for the night if needed at Wat Suttawas.
People are invited to dance the ramwong after the initial ceremony.
People are invited to dance the ramwong after the initial ceremony.
Board games have their place during the festivities in Naklua.
Board games have their place during the festivities in Naklua.
Takraw Lodhuang (Hoop Takraw).
Takraw Lodhuang (Hoop Takraw).
Youngsters battle in the traditional Muay Talay (Sea Boxing) competition – stay on the pole and you win, fall off and you lose.
Youngsters battle in the traditional Muay Talay (Sea Boxing) competition – stay on the pole and you win, fall off and you lose.

The sports took place in the park’s activity zone featured sea boxing, oily pole climbing, checkers, hoop takraw and slingshots.

Ornwara Korapin, tourism promotion director, handed out the hoop takraw awards, with the Por Plu’s Disciples team taking the 9,000-baht top prize. The second- through fifth-place teams were, respectively, Bung Sing, Panthong, Wangjan, Chonburi Tamnak Nam, and Hua Kunchae Girls. Prizes ranged from 3,000-8,000 baht.

A pair of 11-year-old twins from the Little Brilliant Nair television show won the children’s slingshot competition and 5,000 baht.