Chong Phara Festival

The Chong Phara custom entails the Shan-style practice of accumulating merit in the Mae Hong Son province of Thailand. “Chong” refers to a temple or fortress, while “Phara” signifies a Buddha image or the Lord Buddha himself. Chong Phara involves constructing a castle-like structure to symbolically welcome the Lord Buddha from paradise at the conclusion of the Buddhist Lent period. This artistic creation, known as the Buddha’s Castle, is a Shan tradition. Its framework is crafted from bamboo and lined with mulberry paper, adorned with vibrant paper etched with intricate patterns, and then affixed to the scaffold. Colorful local fruits hang from the structure, while banana and sugar cane trees are meticulously tied to its four corners, adorned with radiant lanterns. The Chong Phara ceremony takes place during the early evening of the fourteenth day of the waxing moon in the eleventh month. The subsequent morning, which coincides with the fifteenth day of the waxing moon and marks the end of Buddhist Lent, witnesses an inviting and welcoming ritual. Villagers offer food, including steamed rice, desserts, and fruits in banana leaf cups, placing them inside the Chong Phara. Lighting incense and extending an invitation to the Lord Buddha to dwell within the Chong Phara for seven auspicious days follow suit. Once the seven days of veneration conclude, the Chong Phara is either burned or discarded. Its transient nature discourages preservation, and it is reconstructed annually for future use. The Chong Phara custom embodies the act of venerating the Lord Buddha and carries the belief that families practicing this tradition will find happiness and accumulate significant merit. Similarly, if a village constructs a Chong Phara and engages in seven days of worship at the village temple following the end of Buddhist Lent, it is believed that the entire village will experience collective joy and well-being.

Chong Prara Festival
Chong Prara Festival
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