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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 24 – Phi Ta Khon Festival
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 24, Phi Ta Khon Festival. In Thai, it’s called ประเพณีผีตาโขน (bprà-phee-nii phǐi dtaa khŏon).
The Phi Ta Khon Festival is a festival held during the months of June and July. The day on which it falls exactly is determined by the medium of the town. This festival is unique to the Dai Sai district in Leoi province, and is heavily influenced by the Buddhist Jataka tales.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Why are there only two big Phi Ta Khons in the parade?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The origin of this tradition came from the Jataka tale about the previous incarnation of the Buddha. When he went out into the woods, a band of wild ghosts came to send him back to the city, travelling into the town, but not hurting anyone. When they left the town, they brought all the bad luck and sorrow from the town out with them. Therefore, it’s believed that this festival can also help banish bad spirits, or วิญญาณ (win-yaan), from the town.
Phi Ta Khon is usually observed over two days. On the first day, villagers put on masks and dress up as scary ghosts. There are various parades and traditional music is played. Villagers make gestures along the route and tourists also join the dance, or เต้นรำ (dtên ram), with joy. The parade leads to the temple for a Bai Sri Su Kwan ceremony. The ceremony ends with a parade circling the temple for three circuits.
On the next day, there is no Phi Ta Khon play, and a religious ceremony is held instead. On this day, villagers go to make merit at the temple, listen to Mahachat, dedicate the merit to their ancestors, or บรรพบุรุษ (ban-phá-bù-rùt), who have passed away, and pay homage to the sacred items in the temple.
It’s believed that anyone who plays the part of Phi Ta Khon must remove and throw away their costume, or เครื่องแต่งกาย (khrûueang dtàeng gaai), when they have finished, and absolutely must not bring it into the house, for fear that they will bring with them bad luck and sorrow.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Why are there only two big Phi Ta Khons in the parade?
The big Phi Ta Khons, which are about twice the size of an ordinary person, are clearly decorated with genitals indicative of male and female genders. It’s symbolic of an ancient belief that human genitals represent abundance. Each year, there can be only one pair of Phi Ta Khons.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Are there any interesting beliefs in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!