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Loei to host ghost mask festival in June


Loei to host ghost mask festival in June

Phi Ta Khon or the ghost mask festival.

The annual Phi Ta Khon festival will return to the Dan Sai district of Loei province next month. Known as the ghost mask festival, it is a popular event in the Northeast. It is held either in June or July depending on the decision of Chao Pho Kuan, a spiritual leader who conducts local ceremonies in Dan Sai.

This year, the event will be organised from June 11-13 at Wat Phon Chai where the Phi Ta Khon Museum is located.

Locals believe that the origin of the festival came from a Buddhist tale. It started when King Vessantara or King Vessandorn, one of Buddha’s past lives, returned from meditation in a forest monastery to the city. His people came out to welcome him and among them were spirits that followed him joyfully from the forest to the city.

To tell the tale, boys and men in Dan Sai will transform themselves into ghosts. They will wear ghost masks made from a bamboo steamer and a coconut leaf sheath. They will also don ghost costumes made from colourful fabric strips and have cowbells at the waist.

The festival is part of Bun Luang, a major merit-making ceremony.

On June 11, those who wear ghost masks will go to Wat Phon Chai before dawn for a parade to the Man River. They will collect white pebbles from the riverbed to offer to Phra Upakud, the Buddha sculpture used in a rainmaking ceremony. There will be an arm offering ceremony also around 6am followed by a merit-making ceremony for Chao Pho Kuan.

The next day will be a highlight as the Phi Ta Khon parade will be organised in Wat Phon Chai.

Meanwhile, the last day will feature monks reciting the Maha Chart sermons in the ordination hall of Wat Phon Chai.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Dan Sai Municipality will not allow a fun-filled procession in which locals from several communities take part. Big gatherings for the celebration will also be banned.

For more details, call the Tourism Authority of Thailand office in Loei on 042-812-812 or Dan Sai District Office on 042-891-266.

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