Goodness, gracious…Great Naga Balls of Fire

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Compared to Bangkok life is usually a bit, well, slow-paced along the kingdom’s Mekong River border with the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic. 

But when Thailand’s northeastern province of Nong Khai gets ready to party—in this case for a natural phenomenon that occurs around the end of ‘Buddhist Lent’, the season of the rains when Buddhist monks have special retreats, the people of the riverside communities celebrate Bang Fai Phaya Nark—the Sacred Naga River Serpent fireball festival.

This year the festival falls, or rises, on October 30. That when the mysterious fireballs in many sizes rise mysteriously above the mother of waters, the Mae Nam Khong.

Nong Khai governor Wirat Limsuwat said the province is prepared for the Mekong River version of Scotland’s Loch Ness monster rare event.

He said that 583 fireballs were recorded during last year’s festival. But in some years thousands of fireballs have been sighted.

The activities marking the end of Buddhist Lent take place October 27-November 2 in this Mekong River town. Visitors come from all over Thailand, and around the world, to see the highlight of the celebration, the Naga fireballs rising from the Mekong River banks in Phon Phisai and Rattanawapi districts.

The Naga fireballs are most often reported around the night of the full moon at the end of the Buddhist Lent in late October and this year would fall on October 30.

A variety of activities will also be held in Nong Khai municipality including a light and sound show about the legend of Bang Fai Phaya Nark.

Governor Wirat said the province is all set to welcome everyone to witness the rare event.