Coming across a local festival is one of the great joys in travelling, and such was the case in Thailand at the Chiang Mai Inthakin (city pillar)Festival. This is an eight day event held every year to give offerings to the guardians of the city, with people laying flowers and lighting candles amongst other activities.

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When it gets dark is the best time to see the activities that are held at Wat Chedi Luang, in Chiang Mai’s old city. The temple area is lit up at night as throngs of local people, mixed with a few tourists, gather in celebration. You can see traditional dances and music, as well as eat yourself into Thai food nirvana at the various food stalls.

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An image of the Buddha known as the Five Hundred Thousand Raindrop Buddha, is on display at the courtyard of the temple, and the local people lay flowers, and light candles and incense in worship to the Buddha and the city pillar.

Buddhist monks in Chiang Mai

Buddhist monks prepare during the day.

The city pillar is housed in its own shrine and is only seen during the Inthakin Festival. It is a very important symbol for the city, as many centuries ago Chiang Mai fell into hard times, and upon the revival of the city it was believed that part of their troubles was due to the guardian spirits of the city not being pleased. As such the Inthakin Festival gives offerings to these spirits. There is also a great tree near the shrine, and it is said that if this tree falls, then Chiang Mai will suffer greatly.

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The real joy of the Inthakin Festival is the people of Chiang Mai. The atmosphere at night is infectious with smiles and happiness all around, as everyone gets into the spirit of the festival. You could sit and watch for hours the laying of flowers and lighting of candles, the sincere expressions on the peoples faces as they do so. Many families come together to join in, with local school children helping out in the proceedings, all the while with traditional music being played by some group in the background.

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Delicious food stalls.

The monks play a vital role as well, with some giving out blessings to those who ask, while others help with the general activities going on.

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Wat Chedi Luang itself is very old, originating back to the 14th-15th centuries. It is decorated with statues of elephants and snakes, and makes for a great place to visit even if you don’t happen to be around during the time of the Inthakin Festival.

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang.

Most tourists will not get to see all eight days of the festival, as most will pass through Chiang Mai after a few days. Just one night at Wat Chedi Luang is enough though to get a great feel of what the festival is all about. So if you happen to be in Thailand and Chiang Mai from the beginning off the 12th day of  the waning moon of the 6th lunar month (yes it is a mouthful!), then for sure you will have an amazing traditional experience at the Inthakin Festival.

Want to do some yoga in Chiang Mai then check this post out.

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