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Sangkhla holidays, festivals, ceremonies, performances & celebrations; a cultural calendar.
This is a guide only; dates may differ to elsewhere, even from village to village locally; exact dates are not always
announced much in advance but generally follow the Thai Bhuddist & Christian calendars or a few days
1st. January, New Year’s Day holiday
December to February, Harvest Festival;
The exact festival date depends on the crop and the Bhuddist calendar.
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.
11th. January, 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, Karen Lunar New Year
Karen, (aka Kayin or Kariang) New Year can occur twice in the same year.
16th. January, 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, Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is celebrated in Sangkhlaburi mostly at the local and visiting family level.
14th. February, Valentines Day
9th.- 19th. February, 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.
11th. to 14th. March; 4 nights of celebrations to mark the birth of Luang Por Utama.
6th. April, Chakri Day; national holiday.
Chakri Day commemorates the coronation of King Rama I & the founding of Bangkok.
13-15th. April, 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; Eve of Ramadan
May, 1st., International Labor day public holiday.
7th. May; 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, Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of Ramadan
3rd. June. H.M. Queen's Birthday; public holiday
16th. July, 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, 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. birthday of King Rama X; national holiday
July 29th. Holiday observed to commemorate the birthday of King Rama X
August 12th. National holiday in honour of Mother’s Day, the birthday of Queen Sirikit
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, Vegetarian Festival.
many vegetarian food stalls in the market.
13th. October, anniversary of the Passing of King Rama IX; national holiday
13th. - 15th. October, end of Bhuddist Lent (date may vary); aka "Tak Bat Devo" or “Awk Phansa”
14th. October, 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, (approx date) ceremony to mark the passing of Luang Por Utama.
23rd. October, Chulalongkorn Day national holiday
Commemorating the passing of King Rama V.
13th. November, 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, 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.
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, Father’s Day; A national holiday to commemorate the late King Rama IX’s birthday; prayers are conducted in the temples.
5th. - 24th. December. Christmas day
Celebrated by different Churches on several different days in December.
10th. December, Constitution Day
This national holiday celebrates democracy in Thailand and the first constitution in 1932 (and it's my birthday!).
31st. December, New Year’s Eve holiday
Countdown & party.
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".
Tel: +66 (0) 806 023 184
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Villa Scĕnns, Tambon Nonglu, Amphoe Sangkhlaburi, Kanchanaburi, 71240, Thailand.