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April-June: Bang Fai :-: Thailand Rocket Festival

The origins of the festival are obscured in history, it is generally agreed that the event has been celebrated since ancient times.
There are three main versions to the Bun Bang Fai legend.

  • One has it that the rain god Vassakan loved to be worshiped with fire.Villagers shot rockets into heaven in hopes that he would bless them with plenty rain needed for rice cultivation.
  • A second version is that the rain god Vassakan would be sleeping during this time of the year (hot season) . Villagers would shoot rockets to awaken him to begin the rainy season.
  • A third version claims the event as being a fertility rite, shooting phallic symbols (rockets) into the sky in hopes of fertilizing the land.
The celebration is held mostly in North Eastern Thailand and Laos and is a mix of spiritual and religious beliefs, with plenty of modern day entertainment.

Dates for the festivities vary throughout the area Some festivals are held as early as April, and as late as July during the dry and hot season. Religious ceremonies, parades and a variety of merit making are part of the celebrations.

The celebrations were especially dangerous in 2009  when a rocket misfired and decapitated a spectator. The news video of that event has long since been removed

Rockets are returned to the ground by parachute. Trophies are awarded for the parachute which stays in the air the longest.

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