Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crazy Festival Time

 We are on the cusp of a confluence of festivals and everyone is amped up! First of all it is the full moon and this signifies the day that monks come off of their three month retreat into the woods to do penance and make merit. Then it is the beginning of rice harvest so that means the core foundation of the entire country's meal ticket, three meals a day.

 And it is the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the forefather of the present king who is revered for benefiting the slave population and being a great king. They just adore the king here, and I say, anyone these people adore is someone I adore too, so I am ready to get down and get funky and when in Rome, as Ron Burgundy would say.
  Anyhoo, here is the latest banana leaf/rose petal/styrofoam insane creation put together in the outdoor cafeteria by a small group of mixed locals and teachers. It demonstrates the incredible craftsmanship and reverence these people have. This is for the King's celebration. 
 We actually worked with them for a while, and as always they were incredibly gracious and non-judgemental- though they are very quick to laugh at us for our strangeness and habits which they find hilarious for some reason. I have read that this comes from a sense of discomfort and shyness, but I get much more a sense of simple joy and love of laughter.
Now it is getting closer. This was taken on the second day when they were adding some clover like flowers. I kept saying "Suaay" which is one of the only words I really know which means, beautiful if you make the tone rise just right, but if you say Suaay and the tone doesn't rise, means, "bad luck" so you have to be careful.

 Here is a close up of the center where the bronze statue of the king will go.
Here is the actual full placard. So Crazy! And it is nothing permanent and it only took about 15 people three partial days to make it. It is a very convivial atmosphere with men and women working side by side with younger people as well. There is beer and a little whiskey about, and lots of wonderful food eaten at breaks.

One of the helpers was this person, known as a "ladyboy" in Thailand. They are very common and though I really can't tell you in detail how they maneuver in the world sexually, they are boys who identify as girls, and are accepted as such. No one bats an eye and we have seen them in the high school and all about town as just a regular feature of the gender spectrum. I guess it is part of the mai pen rai culture pervasive here and I love it.

While all this was going on the high school girls were busy getting done up, a full day before, for a big temple dance gig they are putting on for the monk thing. Sorry to be so bland on information, but I just don't have that much. We are simply in the center of a hive of activity and I have no idea most of the time what it all means
We are going to the temple early tomorrow which is a big deal since we will undoubtedly be the only farangs. I will get as many good photos as I can. Then tomorrow night we are off to the gigantic burning boat festival in Nakhom Phanom, which, if you recall my photos of the bamboo structures earlier on the Mekong, is the famous local attraction. I will be your eyes and ears for that as well, though it is reputed to be quite the major party, so my photos may be a bit blurry!

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