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Last weekend was the Khorat Candle Festival, a celebration and procession of Buddhist Lent.  So, naturally, we all crammed into our friend’s car and fought traffic to see what all the fuss was about. I knew, when I saw a group of mannequin-like things that I would greatly enjoy the festival.

A mannequin sculpture (or something) encouraging people to donate to a temple

The festival took place at the main square in front of Nakhon Ratchasima’s city hall. Large floats constructed out of wood, plaster, foam, and wax lined the streets, drawing crowds of faithful Buddhists, amateur photographers, and the occasional tourist.

Man touching up one of the candle floats

Wax, in the traditional colors of the Thai monk wardrobe, was intricately sculpted and carved to depict representations of Buddhist lore. Some of the floats featured scenes from the life of Buddha, tributes to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and other Buddhists deities and cultural folktales. The carving of the floats and their subsequent donation is a chance for Thais to commemorate Buddhist lent and raise money for their local wat*.

A sea of wax in Nakhorn Ratchasima

Disregard my other photo comment. This float is literally sailing a sea of wax...

Elephants, dragons, and deities! Oh my!

Although we had dined earlier in the evening at a local Thai-Chinese restaurant, there were numerous street stalls and vendors selling a wide variety of Issan* delicacies: curries, kanomes**, and beverages for those who were hungry. Oddly, a lot of the stall owners were wearing cowboy hats and gingham button-downs. Cowboy hats aside, the festival was peppered with traditional Thai folk music and dance performances. The night culminated in a lighted candle and float procession in order to showcase all of the hand-carved wax. Ultimately, the candles were taken to a wat as a donation for monks to use during their three-month retreat for Buddhist Lent.

Some of the floats were magnificent (while some bordered on the bizarre), there were a lot of people and subsequently a lot of people watching, and there were a lot of strong smells (most of which were not pleasant, believe me) But all in all, it was a fun little festival and we had a lot of laughs.

A bunny-pig and a Buddhist deity making a human offering? Not quite sure what is going on here.

*Buddhist temples

**North East Thailand

***snacks

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