Let’s celebrate Phi Ta Khon!

Have you ever heard about Phi Ta Khon? No? Maybe about the Ghost Festival? Also not? Well, Phi Ta Khon is the name for a group of festivals held in Dan Sai, Loei Province and Isan in Thailand. The date for the festival is being selected by the town’s ghost mediums.

The story behind Phi Ta Khon

The origins of the festival can be found in the tale of Buddha’s last great incarnation before attaining Enlightenment. When Buddha’s last incarnation returned to his city, it was such a joyous occasion that the village spirits came to celebrate.

Three days of celebration

On the first day, there is a grand procession of people dancing around in colorful masks and costumes. The masks consist of a large head piece made from the woven cone used to steam sticky rice. The face is carved from wood or banana trunks.

There are two types of “spirits” in the procession. You have the “Phi Ta Khon Yai” – or the supreme Phi Ta Khon, and the “Phi Ta Khon Lek” – the ones that are commonly found. The making of the supreme ones involves the performance of a sacred ritual to seek the blessing of the supreme powers and is reserved exclusively for the descendants of families in which the tradition of making these masks has been practiced for several generations.

On the second day, there is a small parade in the morning. In the afternoon, the town elders bring out small rocket filled with good luck tokens. They are set off near the reviewing stands. On the third and final day, the villagers listen to sermons from Buddhist monks.