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Mae Jo lantern Ceremony

Mae Jo lantern Ceremony

You can read this post in : French

YESSS, i am in Chiang Mai ! I had booked a room in one of my favorite guesthouse, since Loi Krathong (also called Yee Peng) brings massive tourism, this water lantern festival is about paying respect to the water spirits.
One night was enough, some French people (not too smart) talked loud, all night, and until early morning.
So, i decided to go to another lodge, i remembered the one where we stayed with Nathalie, last February. It seemed a lot more peaceful and friendly. Bingo !!!!! One room to let and cheaper too !
The owners are new, a couple of French-Thai who started this month. Doing this brought me good fortune for the whole day. Really lucky there, these people are so charming and have such a communicative approach, i was then able to get the most important information of the day !!!!! As i was saying that i came here for Loi Krathong on November the 28th ( 4 days later) and that i wanted to film the release of lanterns, they told me it did not take place in Chang Mai, but at Maejo University, 20 kms far from here, and ….. the festival IS tonight, the 24th !!! It is the only place where they let off thousands of lanterns, at the same time…… Phew !!!!
Then, the most unbelievable thing happens within the next half hour. An American woman, Dani, comes. She looks a bit like Nathalie, and i tell you, it’s not easy to find, since the first one is simply (of course) unique ! A Canadian, Charlotte and a couple from Texas are staying here too, the young woman looks like a Thai and she is “playing” with a huge hula hoop, all day long. Within the next 5 minutes, i find out they all want to go to the festival, and their favorite Tuk-Tuk driver, Roon, can take us all there, if we hire a pickup truck and it’s driver. That’all agreed, a couple of French people joins us at the last sec’. We are off around 3 p.m. and get in a traffic jam to leave town. One hour later, we are on the spot : Maejoe University.
A huge esplanade has been set up, where a giant Buddhist altar stands with also thousands of sticks with (oil) burners on top, regularly spaced on the surface. Thai people make a large crowd and have loads of huge lanterns made of rice paper. Food is given for free, in several places, each different area offers a typical dish, the organization is marvelous.
My mates decided to stay at the park’s entry, so i go alone further down, in the middle and find myself surrounded by quite a few Thai, photographers, and good ones, too !!!!!!!!!!!

The ceremony begins, with a long prayer from the monks, later the crowd will carry on, and then comes the time for the 3 big revolutions a large circle around Buddha made by the monks and a few people in their traditional clothes, they make a procession, clockwise.
Here is a sample of the monks and thais people praying:

It’s time to light the burners, the whole place flares up with thousands of lights and now they get the lanterns straight and set fire to them. Sound of a big “BANG” and all the lanterns are let free, nearly all at the same time , but of course, not the one in front of me !!! They look like stars going into a heavy, dark, stormy sky, in that hot night, very unusual at this time of year.

The show is not finished, yet. Thais have loads of lanterns, and keep on lighting them, making a wish each time they release one.
It took me a long time to get trough this lovely, friendly crowd. We get back to the pickup (outside). We happily sip a glass of whiskey, or beer, when all of the sudden a tropical storm hits us. Specks and leaves from the trees get into our glasses, the bamboos bend down very low towards the ground, the corrugated iron from the shops shake, lightnings strike, the rain is ice cold, so we all jump off the pickup and run into a shop to shelter. In there it’s madness… Thai people welcome us and give us a blanket to make ourselves comfortable. The rain and wind even get into the shop, they get the blinds down. Shouts, drinks, laughs, jokes make it all funny while outside the thunderstorm rages. My friends are just everywhere in the shop. Pity, i did not have my camera, it’s stayed in the car. We have nothing to eat, but a few dried fruits, so, here we go : more beer !

The blinds open again, the storm is over, off we go, it got colder, still raining and back in the pickup (outside) we get yet again in an enormous traffic jam. Anyway time goes by because we are all so merry, the Thais on motorbikes, or in their cars laugh with us, even though we are on a highway….The sky tonight was in flames, sent lightnings and rain….nature does what pleases her and that big festival, has been swept by its whim like little ants, that we are. Little Buddhas.

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Mae Jo lantern Ceremony

par Stéphane Bidouze time to read: 6 min
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