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Ubon Ratchathani Wax Festival

Annual Buddhist Lent Candle Parade as good as before

overcast 30 °C

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Ubon Ratchathani is an iconic province in the north eastern of Thailand and as mentioned before, this is a very special Isaan province due to the strong influence of different cultures combining that of Thai, Lao and Vietnamese. Due to the close proximity of Ubon with neighbouring Laos and Vietnamese, the province has very high potential in attracting travellers from other province and cities within Thailand as a gateway to the other 2 interesting counterparts of the ASEAN family, Laos and Vietnam. The food in Ubon has high similarity with that of the two countries as shared before this blog. So, tourists can in fact enjoy the food and cultures of three countries in 1 province in Thailand which is really a good travel package as far as travel industry is concerned. But, Ubon Ratchathani is not a province that just portray a clash of cultures. Much more than that, Ubon is so distinctive from the other Thai province that one would fall in love and remember for rest of their travel experience, that is the annual candle festival now widely known as the Ubon Ratchathani International Wax Festival. I had 6 years ago, been to this colourful and enchanting festival which captured the interests of people from all around Thailand as well as avid travel and culture lovers all around the globe. This festival can proudly be dubbed as "Unseen Thailand" as I thought, this was never be seen elsewhere or perhaps not as creative and highly skilled as those beautifully, amazingly and marvellously carved figures depicting the religion beliefs of Buddhism within the Indochina region seen here at the Ubon Wax Festival. The festival spanned over 3 days starting from 29 till 31 July 2015 featured various activities including but not limited to the wax carving competitions by world participants from various countries, Ubon Ratachathani Wax Floating Parade and the Buddhist Lent merit making at temples in Ubon Ratchathani and surrounding areas. The city of Ubon was turned into a huge religious party with everyone from elsewhere of Thailand as well as foreign tourists alike converged into the centre of the city to indulge in various activities including the Ubon wax festival bazaar with food and many shopping items available for everyone, the rehearsals of wax floats on the eve of the ultimate festival which was on 31 July 2015 as well as presentations and dance performances, light and sounds presentations on the night of the final day of the festivals. All around the Ubon province and greater Ubon, there were many temples holding the merit making prayers with devotees attending the religious ceremony asking for peace, forgiveness, good health, steady and advancing career prospects, love and good family relationships. The Ubon wax festival was held in conjunction with the Buddhist Lent season, which extended over period of 3 months beginning anywhere between July to October each year. This is a season where all monks will stay in the temples to meditate and reflect on the past year. This was also the beginning of rainy season and monks are obliged to stay in temples and not wander out in their usual "tak bat" (merit making offerings where layman would offer food, drinks and daily use items to monks in exchange of the monks' meditation for the good of the merit makers). In a "tak bat", monks will walk in a line through the villages and the laymen would place food, drinks and other daily essentials into the monks' bowl then remove their shoes and kneel down while the monks' chanting prayers which ultimately to blessed merit makers with good health, harmony life and safe passage throughout their life journey.

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Wax floats paraded during the rehearsal of the Ubon International Wax Festival

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Thai and Isaan traditional costumes and dancers of a particular participant organisation leading the float car @ Ubon International Wax Festival 2015

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A convoy of beautiful Thai Isaan girls @ Ubon Wax Festival

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A candle float @ Ubon Wax Festival

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A traditional song performers @ Ubon Wax Festival

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On the eve of the final day of the Ubon Ratchathani International Wax Festival, all wax floats were ready to be paraded and were being showcased to the crowds from everywhere in Thailand as well as travellers and tourists from across the world during the float procession rehearsal. It was raining on that day but the spirit of the people from all walks of life were not dented. People were seen standing along the road and street sides holding umbrellas, caps or hats eagerly waiting for the rehearse of floats to pass by. I managed to get a glimpsed from the five foot walkways of shops to have a quick view on how beautiful the floats were. On the final day of the Ubon Wax Festival which is the highlight of this unique festival in Ubon specifically and Thailand in general, colourful wax floats came on the streets for everyone to see and enjoy with Ubon's central business district turned into a huge carnival atmosphere with colourful traditional Thai and Isaan costumes worn by the dancers of each of the participants lined over the streets during the float parade. Participants were from various organisations including temples, schools, universities, private corporations and associations. Each participants would have its own traditional dancers of which would front the wax or candle float, followed by a convoy of beautiful Thai or Isaan girls, then the wax float, which being pulled by a mid-size excavator and finally, a lorry loaded with traditional songs performers. The weather on this version of Ubon International Wax Festival was cloudy, described as overall being cool with slight drizzles which quickly disappeared. It was a pleasant carnival day for all who involved in the wax parade as well as the crowds. The float parade started at 0800 and lasted until 1200 over a period of 4 hours and were indeed a nice experience for everyone for it was not only colourful and entertaining but this festival signifies the importance of remembering an important religious event in Thailand as well as it provides a very vital stage for Thais to showcase their carving skills to not only the locals but also to the world. On the night of the final day of the wax festival, the winners of the wax floats including champion, 1st and 2nd runners-up as well as consolation and subsidiary titles were again being paraded on the streets as the grand final activity of the the Ubon Wax Festival which also include the traditional costumes dance performance and street performance and dances activity. It was yet another spectacular performance to end the marvellous annual candle festival in Ubon Ratchathani.

THE AWARD PRESENTATION TO THE WINNERS & SUBSIDIARY TITLES AS WELL AS LIGHT & SOUND PERFORMANCE DURING THE FINAL NIGHT OF THE 2015 UBON RATCHATHANI INTERNATIONAL WAX FESTIVAL
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Other than the candle float parade, other important activities during the Buddhist Lent holiday was to visit temples to offer merit making in return for everything that is supposed to be good in issues affecting our daily life. Most devotees would visit temples on personal basis or with family members or relatives in offering merit making. A merit making during Buddhist Lent season involve presentations of daily use essentials to the monks, including food and drinks but most importantly, it also include large candles which would be useful to the monks as they stayed in the temples for over the next 3 months of the rainy season. I had the opportunity to visit some temples in Ubon Ratchathani during the Buddhist Lent after having one during last year's Songkran holiday. I had previously shared my visits to some of the most significant temples in Ubon during that period. As for this Buddhist Lent holiday, there were another good opportunity to get a close look in few other magnificent Ubon temples of which some of them oversee the Mun river. They were Wat Si Ubon Wattanaram, Wat Luang & Wat Supattanaram of which both overlook the Mun River, Wat Phra Yai Ong Teu & Wat Maha Wanaram. Wat Si Ubon Wattanaram has very strong similarity with Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok. Wat Luang was special with its wooden structure wiharn while its ubosot structure was unusually taller and trimmer than any other temples in Ubon or Thailand and its location is nicely overseeing the Mun River. Wat Supattanaram is yet another distinctive temple in Ubon with its wiharn building architecture being a combination influence of Thai, German and Khmer design making it very closely a resemblance of a church building. Wat Maha Wanaram currently undergoing reconstruction and renovations also being aunique temple resembling the sacred temple of Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, Laos. Wat Ong Teu on the other hand showcase very strong Chinese and Thai design influence.

WAT SI UBON WATTANARAM
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WAT LUANG WHICH OVERLOOK THE MUN RIVER IN UBON RATCHATHANI
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WAT SUPATTANARAM WHICH ALSO OVERLOOK THE MUN RIVER.
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A CANDLE FLOAT AT WAT SUPATTANARAM
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WAT MAHA WANARAM WHICH UNDERWENT RENOVATIONS AND RECONSTRUCTIONS. A VERY DISTINCTIVE WAT IN UBON.
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WAT ONG TEU
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ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ITEM TO BE OFFERED TO MONKS AT TEMPLE DURING THE KHAO PHANSA (BUDDHIST LENT) - THE CANDLES
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Posted by kidd27 23:51 Archived in Thailand

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