A temple in the Saraphi District of Chiang Mai is preparing for the annual Poi Sang Long Festival. The colourful rites which will celebrate the mass ordination of young Buddhist monks will take place between the 4 and 6 April 2017 at Saraphi’s new sub-branch of Wat Papao.
The three-day Poi Sang Long rites follow a fixed format. On the first, parades carry the soon-to-be novice monks to the temple. Parade participants mark the retinues’ progress by hitting drums and gongs and blowing horns. The boys are shaded from the hot sun by parasols. When they get to the temple, they have their heads and eyebrows shaved.
The second day sees a repeat of the parades, but in the evening the novices are required to chant Buddhist prayers in preparation for the actual ordination rite the following morning. On the big day itself, the boys dress up in regal outfits and are then carried to the temple in wooden seats.
Although Poi Sang Long is traditionally a Shan ritual, this year’s festival is the 23rd staged by Wat Papao. This year’s rites mark a change in venue to a new-build temple at Chumpoo Village in the southeast Saraphi District.
Wat Papao abbot Phrakru Amarawirakhun started organising the ceremony to help keep it alive. He says that now other Chiang Mai temples hold their own Poi Sang Long ceremonies his work is done and the 25th anniversary will be the last one.