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Sangkhla holidays, festivals, ceremonies, performances & celebrations; a cultural calendar.

Dates may differ a bit to elsewhere, even locally from village to village; exact dates and not always announced much in advance but generally follow the Thai Bhuddist & Christian calendars or a few days either side.

July

16th. July 2019 Wednesday, Asanha Bucha Day; national holiday

This day commemorates the day of Lord Buddha's first sermon in India and the founding of the Buddhist monkhood (Sangha) 2,561 years ago.

17th. July 2019, Wednesday, Khao Phansa festival (government holiday); First day of Buddhist Lent & the three months rains retreat.

People return to their family homes & attend ceremonies in the temples; they donate & offer robes to the monks; they listen to chanting & sermons; in the evening they perform 'wian tian' that is circumambulate the temple clockwise carrying lit candles, incense and lotus flowers, a very nice spectacle to watch or join; alcohol is prohibited & government offices & banks are closed. Monastics stay in their temples for intense meditation practice and Buddhist study; a time for spiritual renewal.

On this day many laymen ordain (minimum of 7 days) in a colourful, elaborate & elegant ordination ceremony full of ancient rituals. Mon & Karen have their own ordination styles, but generally they both chant with monks & dine together; they pay respect to elders and proceed with others in a procession with families, relatives, & friends, wearing royal costumes & carrying basic necessities of the one ordaining. On arrival at the temple they circumambulate the temple three times; then shave heads & bathe with holy water those ordaining; there is celebratory merit-making, folk dance performances & more.

July 28th. 2019 Sunday - birthday of King Rama X; national holiday

July 29th. 2019 Monday - Holiday observed to commemorate the birthday of King Rama X

August

August 12th. 2019 Monday - national holiday in honour of Mother’s Day, the birthday of Queen Sirikit

September

August or September, Mon Floating Boat Festival, or Por Kamot-Kaban

This is a unique local event with a full-sized newly handmade bamboo boat called Pohamord in Mon; the boat is a colourful centre of attraction during two days & nights of lively celebrations at Chedi Phutthakhaya; the boat, laden with food, is released to float downstream to pay respect and feed the deceased.

This ceremony is said to originate from the Mon Hanthawaddy Kingdom (1369-1539) when Mon pilgrims drowned on their way back from Sri Lanka.

There's lots to see: Mon cultural shows; Mon dressed in beautiful traditional costumes; lines of pilgrims with honey and flowers to give to the monks; hot air balloons; chanting & praying, floating lanterns, almsgiving, prayers, then breakfast.

28th. September - 7th. October 2019, Vegetarian Festival.

many vegetarian food stalls in the market.

October

13th. October, 2019, anniversary of the Passing of King Rama IX; national holiday

13th. - 15th. October, 2019, end of Bhuddist Lent (date may vary); aka "Tak Bat Devo" or “Awk Phansa”

14th. October, 2019, holiday observed to commemorate the Passing of King Rama IX

Tak Bat Devo commemorates the Buddha’s return to earth after the 3-month Rains Retreat. The festival includes alms-giving, gift exchanges, paying polite respect to elders, lighting of candles, pagoda visits; all night outdoor entertainment, shows, games and stalls.

18th. October, 2019; (approx date) ceremony to mark the passing of Luang Por Utama.

23rd. October 2019, Wednesday, Chulalongkorn Day national holiday

Commemorating the passing of King Rama V.

November

13th. November, 2019, Loi Krathong festival.

Simple Krathong floats are made from banana tree trunks & leaves, decorated with flowers and a lit candle, loaded with wishes & worries then floated on the lake or a river in the evening under a full moon; then you watch it float away with it's cargo or wishes & worries; maybe some rice, charcoal, money, flour, incense & candles too for the spirits; elaborate designs are built by groups for fun & competitions. Another happy time.

25th. October – 22nd. November, 2019 Thod Kathin (the 2,561 years old Kathina robe offering ceremony)

After the rains retreat when the monks stay in one place, they now move around; a procession of lay people carrying new robes and offerings to the temples to express gratitude to Buddhist monks & to support temple upkeep.

Highlights of the festival: Buddha statues, monks and lay people are linked by white cotton thread; chanting; making merit (thambun); robe offering ceremony; money trees; festival of lights; sharing of meals; traditional music & dance, food & other stalls.

Each temple can choose its own date for Tot Katin within the set month; there are quite a few temples in & around Sangkhla so it seems like a month long party & celebration. It's a happy time of giving, generosity & sharing that's uplifting; it's an opportunity for meeting, having fun and eating together.

December

Khao Mao Khlook; date depends on the rice crop

New unripe rice is pounded to flakes & offered to monks; then cooked in coconut milk, sugar, salt; a neighborhood activity. There's just a two week window when the ripening grains are suitable for producing Khao Mao; the first farmer to produce Khao Mao is the winners.

5th. December 2019, Father’s Day;

A national holiday to commemorate the late King Rama IX’s birthday; prayers are conducted in the temples.

5th. - 24th. December 2019 Christmas

Celebrated by different Churches on several different days in December.

10th. December, 2019, Constitution Day

This national holiday celebrates democracy in Thailand and the first constitution in 1932 (and it's my birthday!).

31st. December, 2019, Tuesday New Year’s Eve holiday

Countdown & party.

1st. January, 2020, Wednesday, New Year’s Day holiday

December to February, Harvest Festival;

The exact festival date depends on the crop and the Bhuddist calendar.

Neighbours share the preparation of sticky rice Family & neighbours help harvest with sickle in hand; the crop is then dried; threshed; dried again then stored in a rice barn for later milling before use.

Lao, Mon & Karen communities have their own celebrations of the rice harvest; some start, under a full moon, with ritual threshing by Bhuddist monks.

Highlights include community threshing & shared cooking of special herb rice dishes first offered to Buddha images, next to the monks then to elders, parents and teachers.

Activities are accompanied by folk songs & dance performances, teasing & joking. Alcohol is not banned.

January

11th. January, 2020, Saturday, Children's Day celebration.

A week-end holiday to honour children in the Sangkhlaburi market celebrated at the border army compound & elsewhere.

Many free activities for children; advice & moral teaching; lots of gifts, games, free meals & music.

13th. January, 2020, Sunday, Karen Lunar New Year

Karen, (aka Kayin or Kariang) New Year occurs twice in 2020.

16th. January, 2020, Wednesday, Teachers day

The Christian & Bhuddist Karen New Year eve celebrations coincide with the end of the rice harvest & typically include ceremony, dances, singing, speeches, and the consumption of lots of food and alcohol.

25th. - 27th. January, 2020, Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is celebrated in Sangkhlaburi mostly at the local and visiting family level.

February

14th. February, 2020, Thursday, Valentines Day

9th.- 19th. February, 2020 celebrations of Mak ka Bucha; 10th.Mak ka Bucha Day public holiday.

Bhuddists honour this day by strict adherence to the principles of Buddhism; activities include early alms-giving; chanting; merit-making; sermons on the principles of Buddhism; an evening candlelight procession known as "wian thian" where monks and congregation circumambulate the temple carrying flowers, incense and lit candles.

March

11th. to 14th. March 2020; 4 nights of celebrations to mark the birth of Luang Por Utama.

April

6th. April, 2020, Chakri Day; national holiday.

Chakri Day commemorates the coronation of King Rama I & the founding of Bangkok.

13-15th. April, 2020, Songkran public holiday in Sangkhla

This New Year water festival marks the start of the Buddhist calendar year; Thai, Mon, Karen, Burmese & Lao communities and visitors celebrate together in many locations in & around Sangkhla. Many locals and visitors spend a day or two in Three Pagodas Pass where, on the Myanmar side of the border, the party is bigger, more exuberant and lasts longer; in the past few years, just for Songkran, non-Thai passport holders have been allowed to cross for the day and join in the fun. The day's activities include: ceremony & timeless rituals at the temples; joyful, colourful & enthusiastic revelry. Festivities & symbolic custom in most family homes; street water sprinklings or complete dousing are very evident for youngsters to cool off at the hotter end of the dry season; all in the name of love for family & community to welcome the New Year.

23rd. April 2020; Eve of Ramadan

May

May, 1st. 2020, Wednesday – International Labor day public holiday.

7th. May 2020; Visakha Bucha Day (Big Buddhist Day); public holiday

Visakha Bucha festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha at the end of the dry season.

The ceremony includes merit making; simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks laid at the feet of teachers & culminates in pouring holy water on the sacred Bodhi tree, an expression of devotion and respect as the Bodhi tree represents the place of enlightenment of Gautama Buddha. In the evening they perform 'wian tian' that is circumambulate the temple clockwise carrying lit candles, incense and lotus flowers, a very nice spectacle to watch or join.

The festive atmosphere usually includes food; it is a time for great joy and happiness.

23rd. May 2020, Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of Ramadan

June

3rd. June. H.M. Queen's Birthday; public holiday

Please check again for exact dates as they may change

People come to Sangkhla to relax, find green peace & mind space. Life here is slower, it's off the tourist trail. At many of the ceremonies and festivals you will see only Thai, Karen, Mon, Burmese & Lao; that is to say no foreigners, though they are always welcomed when they do come.

"Stay with us" you'll be welcome; great base from which to explore the area; if you require further information, please contact me.

scenn@scenns.com Tel: +66 (0) 806 023 184; a great place to stay.

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