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Annual Phra That Phanom Festival cancelled

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Annual Phra That Phanom Festival cancelled

Phra That Phanom pagoda at Wat Phra That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom province. This year’s festival of the pagoda has been cencelled due to Covid-19. (Photo: Pattanapong Sripiachai)

NAKHON PHANOM: This year’s Phra That Phanom Festival, regarded by Buddhists on both sides of the Mekong river as the main event of the year, has been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The temple committee had earlier agreed to postpone the event, originally scheduled for Jan 21-29, to sometime in February.

At a meeting on Tuesday, the committee decided to cancel it.

It is the first time in over 100 years that the festival has been cancelled.

The temple will still be open for local people and visitors to pay respect as usual, with strict health screening measures.

Local residents lamented the effect the cancellation will have on the province’s economy. Spending is normally put at more than 100 million baht during the festival, with annual  donations to the temple of 15-20 million baht.

The business sector, including hotels and restaurants, will certainly lose the anticipated revenues.

Ratna Lunwela, 66, a vendor of man kaew root, or yam bean, in That Phanom district, said the Covid-19 pandemic and the cancellation is a severe blow for growers of the crispy legume, which usually sells very well during the festival.

Phra That Phanom is a pagoda at Wat Phra That Phanom in That Phanom district and highly revered by Thai and Lao Buddhists on both sides of the Mekong river.

It was originally built in the 16th century. According to legend, the pagoda houses the Buddha’s breast bone. It is, therefore, one of the most important Theravada Buddhist structures in the region.

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