Merit-making for end of Lent

The Nation, October 28, 2007

Buddhists nationwide celebrated the end of three months of Buddhist Lent yesterday with local variations of the traditional takbart thewo ceremony offering alms to monks

Bangkok, Thailand -- In Surat Thani, the activities included the chak phra processions, with Buddha images on elaborately decorated floats pulled by the locals on land and water to gathering points for merit-making ceremonies, as well as longboat racing on the Tapi River.

In Yala, takbart thewo was held under the Ordaining for Security Programme.

In the North, Chiang Rai's Muang residents participated in an event at Doi Ngam Temple where 200 monks walked down the mountain to receive food from villagers.

Residents in the border area of Mae Sai joined activities with those from the Burmese side.

In Nan, over 1,000 villagers gathered in the city plaza called Khuang Muang Nan.

In the eastern province of Chon Buri, the takbart thewo was performed at the central market and along Beach Road.

In another annual activity for the end of the Buddhist rainy season retreat in the Northeast, tens of thousands of anxious tourists jostled along the Mekong River bank on Friday night to get the best view of the annual fireball show - a natural phenomenon called bangfai phrayanak.

They screamed with glee that their wishes were fulfilled when almost 100 glowing orbs were observed, despite the poor display last year.

In Nong Khai's Phon Phisai district, the main observation site, 67 red fireballs wafted out of the river's depths while visitors at the new watching site in Ubon Ratchathani's Khong Chiam district spotted fewer spheres, around 28.

Ubon Ratchathani authorities said the number and spending of visitors during the Naga fireball festival made the province decide to develop tourism related to fireballs in Muang and Khong Chiam districts next year.