Many towns in Thailand hold a Candle Festival to celebrate Buddhist Lent and the start of the rainy season. The most famous – with huge displays of candles and wax tableaux – is at Ubon Ratchathani, in Isaan.
Craftsmen and volunteers in the villages surrounding the city spend weeks carving the intricate candles – some several metres-high – and whole floats containing elaborate scenes from Buddhist scriptures. Many contain life-size human figures and animals –even elephants. The night before the sacred Asalha Pucha Day a beautiful procession of ceremonial candles moves to Thung Sri Muang, Ubon Ratchathani’s festival field. Meanwhile, the villagers and their creations have started their journey to the city to arrive at dawn next morning. On the day, beauty queens and Isaan dancers parade with the floats, which are judged in competition and then donated to the local temples.
Buddhist lent is the most auspicious time for men to enter the monkhood, which many do for three months, even if its not their vocation. This festival is a throwback to the days before electricity, when villagers made merit by giving candles to the new influx of monks to meditate and study by.