Kong Khao festivals bring Songkran season to close

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After seven days of splashing and frivolity, Songkran came to a quieter end with traditional rice-piling festivals and “kong khao” ceremonies in Naklua.

The April 20 event at Lan Po Park in Naklua brought locals and tourists together for games, including slingshots, Muay Thai “sea boxing”, puppet shows and oily post climbing.

Attendees dressed as angels and fairies to parade around the neighborhood, followed by a few dressed as devils to represent fear, 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.

Angels, gods, ghosts and all sorts of spirits take to the stage to begin the proceedings.

Former culture ministers Sonthaya and Sukumol Kunplome presided over another rice festival at Nongyai Temple.

Monks sprinkled holy water on participants for well wishes and good fortune. Later, after the offerings to the spirits, poor locals were invited to join the feast before the entertainment took place.

The witchdoctor or ceremony leader walks around and sprinkles water on the gathered masses before the food offering takes place.

Many activities were available to those who like to dance, ‘ramwong’, and enjoy the shows. All leftovers were given to the dogs in the temple that evening since nobody wanted to take anything back, lest spirits follow them and harm their life, or so they believe.

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.

Youths dressed as ghosts demonstrate how the spirits feast on the offerings.

Former Ministers of Culture Sonthaya and Sukumol Kunplome join the line dance during the opening ceremony of the Rice Piling at Wat Nongyai.

Traditional performances are held for luck and prosperity.

Ready, aim…

Maybe this is the best way to reach the money at the top of the greased pole.

A swing and a miss?  Fun begins at the traditional Thai “sea-boxing” ring.

Ker-splash!

Families gather with friends and relatives for a feast at the festival.

Almost in the money, but the further up one gets, the harder it becomes.