Culture

Boon Kathin Photo Essay

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front of procession going to temple for Kathin celebration

These photos are from the Boon Kathin (บุญกฐิน) festival for Wat Pa Ming Muang on the south side of Khon Kaen city on November 26-28, 2018. (Note that, despite the name, this is a regular maha-nigay temple, not a thammayut forest temple.) Thanks to Paw Sawai and Mae Nuwiang, who organized this event, Luang Ta Tawee Rattanabunyo for answering my many Kathin questions, and everyone else for being so welcoming.… Read More

Culture

Boon Ok Phansa Photo Essay

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candles lit around the temple during Ok Phansa

These photos are from the Boon Ok Phansa (บุญออกพรรษา) celebrations at Wat Pho Sri, Ban Sila village, Amphoe Mueang, Khon Kaen on October 23 to 25, 2018. Thanks to Phra Maha Rueangrit Patara Muni and many other people at the temple for helping me out. A full explanation of Boon Ok Phansa and an overview of heet sip-song, the twelve Isan merit-making traditions, are found on other pages.   The… Read More

Buddhism

Vessantara Jataka Murals at Wat Nong Wang

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Vessantara Jataka mural of gods caring for Prince Vessantara's children while Jujaka sleeps in a tree

The third-floor murals inside Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa at Wat Nong Wang temple in Khon Kaen city tell the story of Prince Vessantara (Phra Wetsandon in Thai). It’s the last of the 547 Jataka tales, a collection of birth stories from the Pali Canon (the Buddhist equivalent of the Bible) recounting some of the Buddha-to-be’s pre-enlightenment lives. The Jataka tales are, for the most part, morality stories in which… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Sak Photo Essay

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woman wrapping fish in a banana leaf

These photos are from the Boon Khao Sak (บุญข้าวสาก) celebration in Ban Khok Sawang, Waeng Yai district, Khon Kaen province on September 24, 2018. Special thanks to Yai Lune and Mae Saithip for taking such good care of us in the village. A full explanation of Boon Khao Sak and an overview of heet sip-song, the twelve Isan merit-making traditions, are found on other pages. Early morning activities at the… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Pradap Din Photo Essay

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taking food to the temple at night for Boon Khao Pradap Din

These photos are from the Boon Khao Pradap Din (บุญข้าวประดับดิน) celebration in the little village of Ban Kham Pia, Khon Kaen province, on September 8 and 9, 2018. Locals here call it Boon Khao Noi (“Little Food”) and the similar Boon Khao Sak ceremony that follows two weeks later is called Boon Khao Yai (“A Lot of Food) since more food is given at the latter. Thanks to Mae Teem… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Phansa Photo Essay

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monk walking on front of a Khao Phansa candle parade float with the Thao Suranari Monument and Chumphon Gate on it

These photos are from the Boon Khao Phansa (บุญเข้าพรรษา) celebration in Khorat city on July 27 and 28, 2018. Most of the parade float-making photos were taken on July 19. Thanks to Ajahn Mai at Wat Nong Bua Rong for answering so many questions. A full explanation of Boon Khao Phansa and an overview of heet sip-song, the twelve Isan merit-making traditions, are found on other pages. Boon Khao Phansa,… Read More

Culture

Ground-Floor Isan Culture Murals at Wat Nong Wang

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mural of fifth khong

This is the second of two pages explaining the ground-floor murals inside Wat Nong Wang’s Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon stupa. These murals are all about Isan culture. Murals #1-23, about Khon Kaen history and the general introduction about the murals are on the first page. อ่านภาษาไทยที่นี่ (click here to read a Thai version)   Northeastern Way of Life (24) Land of the Kaen. Khon Kaen is known to some as… Read More

Culture

Boon Kathin

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mural of Boon Kathin tradition

Boon Kathin (บุญกฐิน) is Month #12 of Heet Sip-Song – The Twelve Isan Merit-Making Traditions. Kathin is a robe-offering ceremony celebrated nationwide, not just in Isan. Communities lead processions to their local temple to give the monks complete three-part robe sets (trai jeewawn), as well as other necessities like sandals and soap. In the past, before ready-made robes were sold in shops, people made their own using a wooden frame… Read More

Culture

Boon Ok Phansa

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mural of Boon Ok Phansa tradition

Boon Ok Phansa (บุญออกพรรษา) is Month #11 of Heet Sip-Song – The Twelve Isan Merit-Making Traditions. Ok Phansa (“Leaving the Rains Retreat”) is the final day of the three-month Buddhist Rains Retreat, which is fully explained with Boon Khao Phansa, the retreat’s first day. Monks have special meetings with their abbot to confess any rules they broke during the Phansa period, while for lay people it’s a day for making… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Sak

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mural of Boon Khao Sak tradition

Boon Khao Sak (บุญข้าวสาก) is Month #10 of Heet Sip-Song – The Twelve Isan Merit-Making Traditions. Boon Khao Sak is the follow-up to Khao Pradap Din from the previous month, and the two are very similar. Boon Khao Sak is also a ceremony for the ancestors, but this time it’s a farewell since it is time for them to return to the spirit world. In the morning, good food, such as… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Pradap Din

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mural of Boon Khao Pradip Din tradition

Boon Khao Pradap Din (บุญข้าวประดับดิน) is Month #9 of Heet Sip-Song – The Twelve Isan Merit-Making Traditions. Khao Pradap Din means “food placed on the ground” and it’s a ceremony to honor people’s ancestors. Before dawn (usually, though some places do it in the daytime), people take foods like sticky rice, fruit, fish, and sweets, plus betel and cigarettes, all served on or wrapped in banana leaves, to the temple.… Read More

Culture

Boon Khao Phansa

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mural of Boon Khao Phansa tradition

Boon Khao Phansa (บุญเข้าพรรษา) is Month #8 of Heet Sip-Song – The Twelve Isan Merit-Making Traditions. In the Buddha’s time, most monks did not stay in monasteries for long periods, they traveled town to town spreading his teaching. During the rainy season in India, travel was very difficult, so monks (of all religions, not just Buddhists) tended to stay in one place during this time. This was also appreciated by… Read More

Culture

Boon Samha

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mural of Boon Samha tradition

Boon Samha (บุญซำฮะ) is Month #7 of Heet Sip-Song – The Twelve Isan Merit-Making Traditions. Samha means “washing,” and this tradition is the Isan version of spring cleaning, but on a spiritual as well as physical level. Also called Boon Berk Bahn (“Opening the Home”) people not only clean out their houses, but also temples and shrines. Ceremonies are done to bless the good spirits and drive out any bad… Read More

Culture

Boon Bang Fai

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mural of Boon Bang Fai rocket festival tradition

Boon Bang Fai (บุญบั้งไฟ) is Month #6 of Heet Sip-Song – The Twelve Isan Merit-Making Traditions. Known as the Rocket Festival in English, Boon Bang Fai (literally “fiery tube”) is one of the iconic elements of Isan culture. The largest rockets are four meters long (plus a longer tail section), hold 120 kilograms of gunpowder and climb several kilometers high (an airplane pilot once claimed to see one at six… Read More

Culture

Boon Songkran

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mural of Boon Songkran tradition

Boon Songkran (บุญสงกรานต์) is Month #5 of Heet Sip-Song – The Twelve Isan Merit-Making Traditions. Songkran is the Thai New Year, and it’s by far the most important holiday in all parts of Thailand. Because of the enormous number of migrant workers who leave their homes to work in Bangkok and other cities, for many families in Thailand, Songkran is the only time they can be together. So everybody who… Read More

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