Thailand: Traditional Festival by the Riverside

Thai River FestivalBangkok – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is inviting visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage Site province to participate in a unique festival celebrating the historic bonds between the Thai people and the many rivers and canals that have shaped their lives through the centuries.

The 6th Aquatic Phansa Festival at Khlong Lat Chado will take place on Friday, 11 July in Phak Hai district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province. Visitors will be able to experience the local people’s way of life alongside the canal, fishing, farming and many other activities.

Also on the programme is the beautiful candle floating procession, a competition to award the best decorated riverside home, Lat Chado local sports games, Lat Chado people’s way of life photography exhibition, and a re-creation of the floating market as it used to be in the old days.

The Aquatic Phansa Festival takes place annually to mark the start of the Buddhist Lent (Khao Phansa) which this year will fall on 12 July. This year’s opening ceremony will take place in front of the Lat Chado Market. After the boat procession, visitors can watch various performances.

While elsewhere in Thailand, Buddhists take part in processions to carry candles to their local temples, these are all on land. Lat Chado decided to do things differently. In a tribute to their way of the water-based way of life, the locals gather in a large flotilla of boats to take the candles to the temple.

Mr. Kreangsak Pimpandee, Mayor of Lat Chado Municipality said “We would like to invite all those who are interested to see this unique festival, enjoy the Thai tradition, recall the glory of the old days and the value of this community.”

Mr. Pramoth Supyen, Director of the TAT Ayutthaya Office, said, “This is a really good example of “Thainess,” a unique opportunity to enjoy the simplicity and happiness of traditional community life. We are expecting a large turnout due to the publicity we have given it through multiple channels.

“Many Thai and foreign tourists visit the Lat Chado Market annually during the Asalha Puja Day. After the day’s programme of activities, visitors can also pay homage to a Buddha image in Ayutthaya province on the same day.”

Marking the full moon of the 8th lunar month, Asalha Puja is one of Buddhism’s most important festivals, commemorating the Buddha’s first sermon in which he set into motion the wheel of “dharma,” a core teaching of Buddhist philosophy.

Lat Chado is about 110 km north of Bangkok. Named after the Great Snakehead fish (Pla Chado) which once thrived in the canal, the Lat Chado riverside market was one of many hundreds that existed all around Thailand, as hubs of commerce and social interaction.

When the era of mechanised road transport dawned, the importance of the Lat Chado Market declined. However, the area still has more than 100-year-old wooden shophouses which are often used as backdrops in Thai TV movies and feature films.

Since its launch, the Aquatic Phansa Festival has helped the revival of the Lat Chado Market, and boosted its popularity among domestic tourists over the weekends. A museum set up in one of the old shophouses tells the story of the community via exhibits of pictures, artefacts and tools used by local farmers and fishermen.

Visitors will also enjoy many of the local culinary delicacies, get a chance to buy souvenirs and handicrafts and take a relaxing canal cruise by riverboat.