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    Loei's ghost mask parade 23-25 June 2007

    Loei's ghost mask parade

    Loei's annual Phi Ta Khon Festival is scheduled June 23-25. It is a carnival-style parade of folks wearing ghosts mask and traditional costume marching downtown in Dan Sai district of this northern province.
    Apart from the fun and revelry, the parade has a religious significance. It is a re-enactment of the legendary reawakening of spirits to celebrate the homecoming of Vessandara, who was Lord Buddha in his previous life. Other activities include firing of bamboo rockets, a demonstration of Phi Ta Khon mask making and cultural performances. For more details, call the Loei Coordination Centre at 042- 812-812, 042-811-405.

    Bangkok Post

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    Phi Ta Khon festival stopped after coyote dancers do a show

    Korean 'ghosts' draw the crowds

    Korean "ghosts" joining for the first time the famous Phi Ta Khon festival yesterday helped draw over 40,000 visitors both Thai and foreign to Loei's Dan Sai district.




    However, some visitors were uncomfortable when an uninvited band of coyote girls in sexy outfits joined the native parade. Another group of girls in shorts was also found on a nearby stage doing the mor lam zing, a modern style of traditional Isaan dancing. Local authorities decided to stop the show shortly after they were alerted to it.

    Phi Ta Khon is a local grass-roots tradition, a grand merit-making event put on by Dan Sai villagers for generations. It reflects local beliefs, a melding of Buddhism and animism.

    Sporting the theme "Visit and learn Dan Sai native culture", this year's festival was opened in the morning by Veera Rojphajanarat, permanent secretary of the Culture Ministry. Then followed the parade of ghosts from district hall to Phonchai Temple.

    The highlight of the day was the participation of Korean ghosts in the parade. They caught the public's attention along the route.

    The Hahoe performance featured 22 Koreans from Andong city. Lim Hiang-kieo, leader of the Korean troupe, said the Hahoe ghost dance had been staged for generations in the Andong area. Local villagers perform ghost dancing to pray for sufficient rain and good weather for their seasonal crops.

    "It is a cultural exchange at local level, following the policy of Unesco to promote cultural diversity. Today Koreans visit our Phi Ta Khon festival, and our Loei people will visit their festival at the end of September," Veera said.

    "Andong's culture of ghosts is similar to Dan Sai's. We both have similar ghost festivals. Andong also has a ghost-mask museum, which we don't as yet. The ministry's thinking about it," she said.

    District head Phornchai Thomkracharng said he would announce a ban on any logo showing ghost performers in the parade after learning this year that some such commercial logos had been used to promote products.
    The Phi Ta Khon Festival winds up today.


    Mayuree Akhabarn
    The Nation

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