The lantern festival ceremony at Wat Phan Tao is one of the most photographed events of the festival. Almost every blog post that I have seen about the festival includes a photo of this ceremony.
The first time I saw a photo of this ceremony my reaction was that this is a must see activity when I attend the lantern festival. The scene is beautiful with so many lanterns hanging from the tree, the candles scattered all over the ground and in the water create a mysterious atmosphere and the monks meditating at the water’s edge with a Buddha statue in the background define the setting as a religious ceremony.
The setting of this ceremony is stunning even before the monks begin the event. Of course, the most notable features are the lanterns in the tree and the candles on the ground but the Bodhi Tree (known as the “tree of awakening”) has religious significance and the curtain of bamboo provides a barrier that gives the entire setting the perfect backdrop.
As I mentioned in the first post on the lantern festival, I find it difficult to understand the activities of a culture that I did not live in. For this reason I am not going to try to explain the activities of this ceremony but I will show you the events that I experienced.
The Chiang Mai Lantern Festival is a combination of two festivals, the Krathong Festival is also known as the Floating Lantern Festival and the Yee Peng Festival that is celebrated by letting a lantern into the sky. This celebration combined both of these into one ceremony.
The first part of the ceremony involves meditation and then the monks lit more candles and placed them into the small pond. The set of photos below are of this portion of the ceremony.
During the entire ceremony a monk on the side of the pond chanted with a small group of women seated in front of him. The ceremony was long and different monks took turns chanting.
The next part of the ceremony, the monks lit lanterns that floated in the sky. This part of the ceremony did not seem as serious as the monks were laughing, smiling and enjoying the event.
The lantern festival ceremony at Wat Phan Tao was a on the top of my list of activities that I wanted to attend at the Chiang Mai Lantern Festival. Prior to going to this ceremony, most of the information that I could find about the ceremony was one or two photos in an article that included events about the entire festival. I hope that the photos I have provided in this post have provided a more complete representation of this ceremony.