Chonburi Province Annual Festival
The Chonburi Province Annual Festival takes place in April every year, coinciding with the Thai New Year celebrations during Songkran. Unlike in other parts of Thailand where water fighting is the main activity during Songkran, in Chonburi there are a lot of Buddhist ceremonies and centuries-old traditions such as Kong Kao, which showcase the culture and heritage of Thailand. Since Chonburi is close to Pattaya, this is one of the Pattaya festivals that is worth seeing if you are visiting in April.
As one of the main festivals in Thailand, Songkran celebrates the beginning of the New Year according to the lunar calendar. Chonburi comes alive during this festival with the Miss Songkran beauty pageant, sand stupa building contests, displays of rarely seen local games and several religious traditions, in addition to water splashing.
One of the Buddhist religious traditions that are on display during the Chonburi Province Annual Festival is the bathing of the Buddha statues in the local Wats or temples with scented water. Then the sacred image of Phra Putthasihing, the main Buddha idol of the city, is taken on a procession around the city.
Besides this, there are certain local traditions such as Kong Kao, which can be witnessed during the Chonburi Province Annual Festival. There is a worshipping ceremony where monks perform rituals to make offerings to thank the gods for protecting the local people over the past year. The belief is that this will bring prosperity for the next year. Local elders and important members, such as Government officials, dress in traditional costumes and take part in a parade through the streets.
During the festival, there are several events such as Thai Boxing displays, traditional dance performances and interesting local games that are conducted to entertain the crowds as they wait for the ceremonies to start or the procession to pass by. The games that take place during the Chonburi Province Annual Festival are unusual but interesting. Among the popular ones are sling shot competitions, bamboo pole climbing competitions and traditional boxing on the beach.
Besides stalls along the beach where you can buy local crafts cheap, food stalls are one of the reasons that this is one of the popular festivals in Pattaya. While you can sample authentic Thai cuisine at the stalls, another place where you can get food free is at the public gatherings after religious ceremonies, where the food offerings are distributed to the public.
The sand stupa building competition showcases the splendid local arts as beautiful Buddha statues carved from sand are on display on the beach until they are judged. There is water splashing on the streets, like in other parts of Thailand, to wash away the sins of the previous year. Add to this the beauty contest, performances of traditional dances, martial arts and boxing, and it is easy to see why the Chonburi Province Annual Festival draws such large crowds. Besides locals who return to their homes to take part in the Songkran festivities and pay respects to their elders, several international visitors plan their visits during this time, so they can experience the real Thai culture.
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