RATCHABURI — Hairless, powdered heads collided Monday as part of a festival celebrating traditional games.
Crowds chanted as bald men of all ages wrestled using only their baby-powdered pates in a bid to force one another out of bounds at a festival held at Wat Chotitaikaram in the Damnoen Saduak district in Ratchaburi province.
The festival commemorates Rama V’s 1904 visit to the area with games featuring traditional games from that era. But what draws the most interest are the wrestling matches in which bald men test the strength of their unobstructed domes.
Presiding over the event was district chief Prayong Janteng, who refereed the matches and powdered each man’s bald head to prevent slippage. Each match consisted of two rounds lasting one minute and 30 seconds.
In the end it was Anthapol Supcharoen’s fierce brow which won the day. He was named champion and the title “Mr. Baldy of Damnoen Saduak,” along with a cash purse of 3,000 baht.
Other games at the festival included mon son pha, a distant cousin to Duck, Duck, Goose, and maa gab gluay, in which children gallop around on banana-stalk “horses.”
Bald-head wrestling, or hua laan chon gan (bumping together of bald heads) is a traditional game played during Songkran and other festivals that dates back to the Ayutthaya era. Crowds would gather in raucous jollity to watch baldies battle it out in hope of being named the local Mr. Baldy.
The festival is held annually. Bald foreigners are welcome to sign up, though most tend to skip the temple in favor of a floating market about half a kilometer away.
Footage from Monday’s 113th Anniversary of Rama V’s Personal Journey Festival in Ratchaburi province. The bald wrestling starts at 4:34.