Shan’s traditions are nearly held every month and because Shan strictly believes in Buddhism, therefore most of the traditions are stressed in making merit and giving alms. The details of Shan’s important traditions are as follows:
Poijati (The Worship of a Sand Pagoda):
Poijati or The Worship of a Sand Pagoda has been inherited by Shan every year for a long time. It is held at Wat Phanon Temple (Reclining Buddha) Mae Hong Son Muang district, and other temples in the villages of each district, on the purpose of worshipping the Buddha and praying for seasonal rainfall. It is generally held in June, 7 days before the festival commences in the evening, after finishing work, the villagers will help together carrying sand to the temple putting it at the provided area of the temple until there is sufficient to build a sand pagoda. The villagers will help together again to build the pagoda and decorate it with Shan’s flags, tiers, colorful rainbows, and various kinds of flowers. At night the lamps are lit brightly and beautifully. Now when the day comes, the villagers will dress themselves in Shan style with beautiful colors to join the festival and bring some sweets, bananas, sugarcanes, rice, foods, flowers, candles, incense, and others to offer at the temple. After that, there will be Buddhist preaching or “Thomleek” in the Shan language, after finishing, offering some food to the monks and having a party to all participants. In the afternoon, there will be “Fireballs Procession Contest” before bringing to lit in the field far away from the village. The purpose is to warn all angles to disregard seasonal rainfall.
Poi Learn Sib Ed:
Poi Learn Sib Ed or “End of Buddhist Lent Day” tradition is a very important tradition of people in Mae Hong Son. In month eleven, about thirteenth-fourteenth of waxing moon, there will be a fair selling and buying all day and night. The villagers will buy some food or something for making merit at the temple on the fifteenth of the waxing moon. In the morning of the fifteenth of waxing moon there will be giving alms to the Buddhist monks (Tug Bat Tawo) at Phra That Doi Kong Mu temple, which located on the top of the hill, the monks will parade down from the top of the temple to Muay Tor temple which is located at the foothill, thousands of people will be scattered in line along both sides of the road in order to wait for giving alms to the monks. It is very beautiful appearance, at night houses and temples will light very bright lanterns and will also have “Chong Phara Procession” or “Castle Procession” to welcome the Buddha to come from paradise. The castle will be decorated beautifully, and there will be various local entertainments and a “Thousand Candles Procession” (Lu Ten Heng), too.
Lu Then Heng:
“Lu Then Heng” is the continuous ritual with the Poi Learn Sib Ed or the Lent. “Lu Then Heng”, is the Shan language; this means 1,000 candles offering. According to the belief of Shan people, for the way that Buddhists have offered 1,000 candles to worship. Threefold refuge. This will make the living to have the lighten glory without illness. For the step of operating Lu Then Heng tradition, the group of Buddhists will join to decorate other things, at least not less than 1,000 things as follows; 1,000 candles up, 1,000 flower cones up. The people will smile and dress with Shan dressing to come out to join in this tradition. At night time, various temples will be lighten with the color of the candle light, and the lamp, this will include the dance and other local shows.
Ton Gia Tradition:
After end of Buddhist lent day about October, each of community will bring pine wood to cut into small pieces and tie them to be a big trunk about 3-5 meters high with beautiful decoration, then parade to the temple and light it brightly, which regards as making merit and will make the life progress. Moreover, in the procession will comprise, with thousand of candles and offerings parade along the various roads, and there will be beauty contest among each community. In the procession will have some shows and competition such as local culture show, Shan music which make fun among the procession.
Poi Lu Kaow Yaku:
The tradition of Poi Lu Kaow Yaku is a tradition that is held every year. It is a tradition that has affiliation with the villagers who do agriculture for a long time. It is regarded as the tradition that is held by Shan. Shan believe that after farming or harvesting there have to be some recall of rice kindness which protects their farms and gives them rice to nourish their lives. After getting some new rice they have to give to the temple to make auspicious for their lives; so on a day of month 3, which is exactly to February of every year, Shan will hold the tradition of Kaow Yaku since then.
Way of making Kaow Yaku:
Bringing the sticky rice to steam until it is cooked then put it into the pot and pouring molasses with coconut milk after that mixes it and put some peanut with roast sesame then put it on the tray and put some scratch coconut on top cutting it into pieces and wrapping with banana leave or putting it into a bag to keep to the temple. The left of Kaow Yaku will be donated to the villagers. In the past there was a procession of Kaow Yaku by using a nice decorated cart carried Kaow Yaku and went around the village. There were still some entertainments about folk music, and dancing to make more fun.
Wan Pa Luek:
The,”Wan Pa Luek”, ceremony will be set in every year in the month 7, (June), before the Lent of Shan people; for the most part of every community of Shan people, this will have the village merit-making ceremony, and the “Liang Muang” ceremony. This is a belief that is held to be practiced from generation to generation. This is called, “Wan Pa Luek”, by this has the belief that setting of this Wan Pa Luek ceremony will help to protect all danger. This will give the effect to let the people in the village to receive protection from the “Chao Muang”. (The Chao Muang is the spirit of the ancestors who will protect the village or community to be peacefully inhabited). This will protect the danger from other bad things. This will inspire the people in the village to live happily forever, by the rite will be started in the morning time, that is the banquet for the “Chao Muang”. This will have the offering of the alcohol and the chicken mainly, for the part in the noon time, this will have the, “Wan Pa Luek”, ceremony. Villagers will bring the bucket to put Som Poi turmeric juice, sandstone and bamboo weave that are called, “Ta Laew”, that has 7 layers and other auspicious leaves and Holy thread to join in preparing the ceremony. In the time period of preparing the ceremony. This has prohibited anyone from entering in and out of the village until the ceremony has ended. When this ceremony is ended, this will bring, “Ta Laew” to lace on the entrance and the exit of the village and villagers will hang, “Ta Laew” and 9 kinds of auspicious leaves at the front of the house door and villagers will bring rocks to scatter in the house, outside of the house and at the back of the house for protecting the evil that will enter to pester the people who live in this house also.
Tang Sorm Tor Long Ceremony:
“Tang Sorm Tor Long” is the Shan language that means the offering of Mathupayas rice. This is the offering of the rice to Buddha for being used as Buddhist worship. There is setting of the ceremony during the Lent, that is, the time period in July or September, and there is setting of the ceremony that is in the time period of the Buddhist holy day, for the step in preparing this ceremony. This will use the time for 2 days; that is, the 1st day is the preparing day. By villagers will prepare things to offer. This is the Buddhist worship for Buddha that consist of Ratchawat, Tung, the altar table, banana shoots, sugar cane shoots, flowers, incense candles, beautiful carved fruits; such as; the watermelon, the pom melo, the papaya, and there is the decoration to offer for using in the aforementioned tradition to have the beauty. For the 2nd day, this is the day for offering Mathupayas rice. This is the day that has the ceremony since the morning time. By this will use Mathupayas rice stirring. By there is the person to prepare Mathupayas rice stirring. This will have the dressing in white color. The ingredients of Mathupayas rice will consist of the rice, the milk, the butter, the honey. This will bring the aforementioned ingredients to cook until have the ripened rice. And then this will bring it to form as the ball. This will sort in the prepared utensil for bringing to offer as the Buddhist worship for Buddha in the morning time. Later, the believer will bring prepared food to offer to Buddhist monks and novices; and there is the banquet for the layman and the laywoman and attendees. This is held to be the end of the ceremony of Tang Sorm Tor Long ceremony.