Ratchasima Buddhist Lent Candles Mix Politics With Humour

Example of the Candle Parade in Nakorn Ratchasima

(14 July) Residents in
Nakorn Ratchasima province are gearing up for the festival marking the beginning of Buddhist Lent
(Kao Pansa) in which gigantic candles parades would grace the main roads in the town center.

The Lent is the three-month annual retreat when Buddhist monks are required to stay in their temples
during the entire season. The tradition is said to have begun when Buddha
instructed his
monks not to travel during the rainy season, lest they damage the budding crops and step on small
animals like frogs in villagers? rice fields on their way.

As part of the tradition, many
Thais offer huge candles (called Tian Pansa) to local temples to symbolize the length of the
time the monks are required to stay in their secluded residences.

But Nakorn Ratchasima is
known for taking the step further – much further. Towering candles, delicately carved into shapes of
Buddha, angels, and mythical creatures are mounted on motorized floats as they parade past the
crowds of awed tourists from all over the country.

The festival is known for its touch of
humour, too. In previous years, the candles have featured figures of Hollywood stars and Thai
celebrities.

This year, the festival would make fun of the feuding politics of the kingdom.
Mr. Saiyant
Chaikumpa, 31, and Ms. Pornpahn Ruengsri, also 31, the owners of Ohm, a Buddhist equipment shop in
the province, have created 7 actual size crafted candles of Thai politicians and public figures in
manner that appears in the popular ghost film Pee Mak Pra Kranong.

Those featured are Mr. Sorayut Suthasanajinda and Mr. Kohtee Aram Boy, 2
well-known TV personalities. Next to them are
Mr. Chalerm Yubamrung, Minister of Labour, Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, an active
member of the opposition Democrat Party and Mr. Chuwit Kamolvisit, the outspoken leader of Love
Thailand (Rak Prathetthai) Party.

 
They are carved with expression
of being scared by
PM and
Minister of Defense Yingluck Shinawatra and Former PM Abhisit Vejjajeeva – who take the role of the
pregnant ghost Nak and her husband Mak in the horror-comedy film (which was, in turn,
based on a popular folk ghost story).

The choice of casting Mr. Abhisit as Mak, the hapless
man who did not know his wife died while he was away for military service, is a reference to Mr.
Abhisit nickname Mark that sounds like Mak, and the scandal which reveals that Mark, unlike Mak,
dodged his mandatory military draft.

Mr. Koh Tee
was crafted as
dressing in a Ferby costume, as he once wore in the much-watched TV show Rueng Lao Chao Nee
(Morning Talk) on Channel 3.

The creations brought some laughter to the locals amid
the political battles that have been gripping Thailand for some time now, pitching the government of
Ms. Yingluck with the anti-government activists and Mr. Abhisit′s Democrat Party.

The set
has attracted much attention from the locals, too, as many visitors came to the store and take
pictures with the handicrafts.

The set of the candles, as called Pee Mark Pra Khanong,
obviously the pun of Mr. Abhisit′s nickname, will be part of the annual Candle Parade of Nakorn
Rajasima province. The festival will be held on the 20-23 July, at the Thao Suranaree (Ya Mo)
Monument park.