Goddess Pageant and Dragon Dance Mark 2019 ‘Moon Festival’

Naruemard Chuenkamon, the winner of this year's goddess Guanyin reincarnation contest, on Sept. 13. Photo: Paknam Pho Chinese New Year / Facebook
Naruemard Chuenkamon, the winner of this year's goddess Guanyin reincarnation contest, on Sept. 13. Photo: Paknam Pho Chinese New Year / Facebook

BANGKOK — It’s Mid-Autumn Festival – or as Thai people call it, Moon-Worshiping Festival – and there are more ways to celebrate than buying high-calorie mooncakes.

Although a majority of Thais with Chinese descent in Bangkok will opt for modern celebrations by sharing mooncakes, which symbolize completeness and reunion, more traditional approaches can still be seen in some parts of the country.

For example, Thai-Chinese prayers and lion dances are scheduled to take place at Chao Pho Phra Phloeng Shrine in Bangkok’s Talat Phlu today, while part of a major road in Songkhla province has been closed until Saturday for a “Hatyai Moon Festival” event. Festivities there will feature a giant lantern, dragon dance, and more than 100 food stalls.

Another highlight is an annual pageant in Nakhon Sawan province, where 22 Thai-Chinese contestants adorned in red qipao will compete to represent the goddess Guanyin as per local beliefs.

While other pageants look for physical beauty and charisma, contestants in Nakhon Sawan need luck. The winner is determined by the throwing of a pair of wooden crescents, which  have to land with one facing up and the other facing down twice, with both facing down in a final round.

This year’s winner is Naruemard Chuenkamon, 18, a student at Nakhon Sawan Rajabhat University. She gets to be worshipped as the goddess’ reincarnate by the entire city for a day.

The autumn full moon, which falls on Sept. 13 this year, is believed by ancient Chinese lore to be a day of rejuvenation and harvest.

Mooncakes also remain popular for the festival. Kasikorn Bank’s research center estimates nationwide mooncake sales this year at 950 million baht, a 2 percent increase from last year.

Additional reporting Teeranai Charuvastra

This story has been updated after the result of the pageant was announced.