The Songkran Festival on 13th-15th April 2016 is celebrated throughout the province and features processions, merit-making at the temples and a lot of water-splashing. In addition, The Erawan Museum and the Ancient Siam will have special activities during 13-15 April. Songkran in Phra Pradaeng is celebrated on the first weekend after the rest of the country. This year it is on 22-24 April 2016.
The most colour festival during the year is Loy Krathong (ลอยกระทง) held on the full moon of the 12th lunar month (usually in November). This year it will be on Monday 14th November 2016. This is a festival to pay respects to the Mother of Water to ask for forgiveness for polluting the water in the past. Loy means to float and a krathong is a kind of bowl.
On the afternoon of the festival a parade takes place through the city. Krathongs of all shapes and sizes are placed on floats and carried by school children. A typical krathong is made using banana leaves. The base is from the stem of a banana plant. Incense sticks, a candle and flowers are placed inside the krathong. During the evening, thousands of people go down to the river or their local klong (canal) to float their krathongs. They light the candle and incense sticks, say a prayer and then float it on the water. It is a wonderful sight with flickering lights bobbing up and down on the water and fireworks exploding above.
The Phra Pradaeng Songkran Festival (งานเทศกาลสงกรานต์พระประแดง), formerly known as the ‘Pak Lat Songkran Festival’, was similar to Songkran celebrated in the other regions of the country, with the notable addition of a colourful and elaborate Songkran procession staged by the Mon, or Raman, residents of Phra Pradaeng. It is also held later than the rest of the country taking place on the first weekend after 13th April. The highlight of the festival is a grand procession of floral floats carrying beautiful maidens dressed in a traditional Mon, or Raman, costume. Each holds a fish bowl in one hand and a bird cage in the other. Other maidens, accompanied by men dressed in traditional Raman costume of sarong and round-necked shirt and sash (the costume is called “choot loy chai”), walk in front of the ‘Songkran beauty queen’.
THAI-RAMAN FLAG CEREMONY
Each village makes its own centipede flag, which is carried in a ceremonial flag procession along the road to be draped on the swan pillars at various temples. The flag, the symbol of the Thai-Raman people, is of Buddhist significance and incorporates the spirit of unity.
A demonstration of traditional Raman games such as saba, a pitch and toss game played with beans. Various indigenous games of Thai-Raman origin being staged in designated villages from 08.30 to midnight during the festival period. In saba, a traditional Raman games, young Raman lads and lasses engage in a lively dialogue, accompanied by song and dance. This is a quaint custom, which is now rarely witnessed.
Event: Phra Samut Chedi Temple Fair
Date: 21st October – 1st November 2016
The main event of the year is the Phra Samut Chedi Temple Fair which is held on both sides of the river. This is a celebration of the chedi for nine days and nine nights commencing the fifth waning moon day of the 11th lunar month. This is usually in October. In preparation for this important event, many people work together in sewing a large red cloth to wrap around the chedi.
The event starts with a parade on the east bank of the river. Students from all around the province take part. Starting at the City Hall, the red cloth and the large parade winds itself through the streets of Samut Prakan before ending back at the river. Here the red cloth is transported upriver to Phra Pradaeng where the local people there have an opportunity to pay their respects. The journey ends at Phra Samut Chedi, about four hours after it started. Here, the cloth is ceremoniously paraded clockwise around the temple three times. Members of the Rungjaeng family are the only ones allowed to climb up the steep chedi to wrap the sacred cloth around it.
The temple fair itself then starts. It is a massive event taking place in more than one location. Not only are there stalls around Phra Samut Chedi but also on the east bank where the city hall is. In the evening several of the main roads are closed to traffic and people from all over the country come to buy and sell. There is much to do for children and adults. Just about everything can be bought here and there are plenty of games to play too. For example shooting and big wheel rides. There is a large variety of food on offer. From fried grasshoppers to shark fin! The roads are so packed with people that it takes forever to walk a few paces.
Map for Phra Samut Chedi:
The Lotus Flower Receiving Festival (ประเพณีรับบัวหรือโยนบัว) takes place at Bang Phli. This festival has been handed down from one generation to the next. It is held annually one day before the end of the Buddhist Rain Retreat (otherwise known as the Buddhist Lent). This is on the morning of the fourteenth day of the waxing moon in the eleventh lunar month (usually September/October). This year it is held from 9-17 October 2016 with the main parade on the morning of 15 October 2016.
Traditionally, local people line up on both sides of Klong Samrong and throw lotus flowers onto the boat carrying a replica of a revered Buddha image. This image is called Luang Poh To and is kept at Wat Bang Phli Yai. People arrive at the temple early in the morning in order to reserve a spot along the canal.
The Luang Pho Pan Worship Fair is organized annually at Wat Mongkhon Khothawat by the Bang Bo people. The fair is held between the fifth to the seventh day of the waxing moon in the twelth month of the lunar calendar to commemorate and celebrate Luang Pho Pan’s virtue. This is usually in about October. The main event is a parade through the town and then on a boat and out into the Gulf of Thailand. This year the festival is on 17th November 2012. The parade usually starts early at 7 a.m.
When people talk about the Vegetarian Festival they mainly think of the one held in Phuket. But really you will find that Chinese communities all around Thailand will be celebrating the Vegetarian Festival at this time. The main venue in Samut Prakan city is at Rongjae Thongsiang near Taiban Circle. The ten day event starts with the raising of a pole which signals the nine gods to come down to earth. At the Chinese shrines around town there will be daily chanting. Other events include a parade and floating of krathongs on the river.
The Old Bang Phli Market Festival takes place every year in the month leading up to the Rub Bua Festival. The 150 year old market on Samrong Canal is one of the oldest in the country that is still running. The Old Market is open every day but there are more activities at the weekend during the festival. This is a good opportunity to see the traditional way of life of the Bang Phli people living along the canal. Every weekend there will be special activities that include folk plays, sea boxing, boat tours, traditional sword fighting and local food.
Towards the end of the rainy season and the end of the Buddhist Lent, usually in October, local people come together to race boats on canals and rivers. The timing of these events are set by the phases of the moon and are listed below. This is only an approximate guide as sometimes they shift the event by a day or two. Check theSamut Prakan Forumsfor latest details about boat races in 2010.
Phra Pradaeng– 4th day of the waning moon of the 11th lunar month
Bang Bo– 9th day of the waxing moon of the 12th lunar month
Phra Samut Chedi– 8th day of the waning moon of the 11th lunar month
Bang Phli– 14th day of the waxing moon of the 11th lunar month
Sakhla– 2nd day of the waning moon of the 11th lunar month