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Pattaya Daily News

01 July 2006 :: 18:07:10 pm 26389

Loei province is becoming a popular tourist destination

The number of tou rists visiting Loei is expected to increase by no fewer than 25% at the end of the 2006 fiscal year compared to that of last year.
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Loei governor Samroeng Cheuchawalit (สำเริง เชื้อชวลิต) said rehabilitation of the environment and ecological system, flood prevention and reforestation projects at several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the past two years have helped boost tourism in the province, 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Bangkok.

Mr. Samroeng said fresh air, green forests and cool weather have drawn 217,779 Thai and foreign tourists to Loei between October last year and May this year, generating income from admissions worth about 11 million baht.

Mr. Samroeng believed Loei was still a popular tourist destination and so expected the number of visitors to rise by 25% over that of 2005 when the current fiscal year ends on September 30.

1 July 2006
July 1, 2006. The annual festival (Phi Ta Khon) is held as the locals believe that the spirits will help to provide rain for rice cultivation and prosperity to their families. Villagers wearing ghost outfits parade in the streets during the annual Friendly Ghosts Festival in Dan Sai district of Loei province.

Phi Ta Khon festival reflects the local Isaan belief in ghosts and spirits. Held once a year in Dan Sai district in Loei Province, it is part of a grand merit-making festival known as the “Boon Luang” festival. Part of the activities includes young men dressed up as “spirits” wearing long trailing costumes made from colourful strips of cloth sewn together.

The origins of the Phi Ta Khon Festival can be found in the tale of Lord Buddha‘s last incarnation before attaining Enlightenment. In Buddhist accounts, it is said that when Prince Vessandara, the Buddha‘s penultimate incarnation, returned to his city, it was such a joyous occasion that the village spirits came forth to join the welcoming parade. This very colourful and vibrant Phi Ta Khon procession is the central focus of the celebrations.

The first day of the festival involves religious ceremonies performed at the temple while the second day is a parade of young men in hideous-looking Phi Ta Khon mask—the masks are made of dried sticky rice painted in bright colours.

The clanging sound of the square cowbells worn around the waist announces the presence of the spirits who wield phallic-shaped long-handled swords decorated with red paint. The good-natured, fun-loving spirits mingle among the crowd, teasing and amusing all who take part in the procession. Spectators and visitors are welcome to join in the fun.

Phee Takone or Takone Ghost is a kind of game played in the royal merit making an annual merit-making ceremony of Dan Sai District, Loei Province.

The villagers do not only play the game for fun, but also to beg for rain. Highlights of the festival are the identity in wearing the festival costumes. A part of these costumes is the ghost-look masks, which are made of the northeastern-style “Huad”, triangular-shape, sticky-rice cookers. These are painted in beautiful, vibrant colors. The players wear these “ghost” masks and costumes made of pieces of cloth. The costumes are punctured to allow two holes for the player’s hands.

Each “ghost” carries his own weapon. He also has “Mark Kalaeng,” a square-shape metal object, similar to a bell, tied to his waist.

The activities begin early morning of the first day, with the placing of the Phra Uppa Gupta image on the altar, a procession carrying God Guan and Goddess Nang Tiam.
Another procession hailing Vejsandorn Buddha, consists of: Por Saen, Naang Taeng dance troupe, all the Phee Takone “ghosts,” large and small and Boon Bang Fire or the northeastern-style rockets. Different floats in the procession are made by villagers and are entered in the float contest. There is also a Phee Takone dance contest along with other cultural performance.

Program for Phee Takone Festival, Loei Province

Frist Day
Phra Uppa Gupta image ceremony:
03.00  The ceremony of putting the image on the altar (the procession moves from Pone Chai Temple to the bank of Mun River, and then returns)
08.30  The Bai Si Soo Kwan, or bringing back and boosting the morale, ceremony (Home of God Guan);
10.00  Opening of the Uppa Gupta image ceremony (Pone Chai Temple)
13.00  First round of Phee Takone dance contest (Pone Chai Temple);
18.00  Cultural performances and entertainment (Pone Chai temple)

Second Day
08.00  Line up the Phee Takone procession and the performance procession (Dan Sai village community school)
10.00  Opening ceremony for the Royal Merit-Making Rite and Phee Takone Festival (in front of the District Office)
15.00  Procession hailing Buddha Vejsandorn, and firing Bun Bang Fire rockets (Pone Chai temple)
19.00.  Preaching of “Ten Thousand, One Hundred Thousand of Phra Malai (Pone Chai temple).

Third Day: (No playing of Phee Takone)
04.00  Praying of 13 chapters of Maha Chata (Pone Chai Temple)
08.00  A ceremony to relieve the bad luck of the country (Pone Chai Temple);
The procession hailing Gunt Lon image (from God Guan’s home to the market and return to Pone Chai Temple.)
09.00-17.00  Exhibition and demonstration of Phee Takone ghost masks, and their production methods (Pone Chai Temple).
Sale of food and OTOP products by the Housewife Group (in front of the District Office).

Contact information: Loei Tourism Co-Ordinator Center Tel: +66 (0) 4281 2812, (0) 4281 1405 Fax: +66 (0) 4281 1480.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Tourism News

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