Wat Bang Phra
by, 20th Mar 2011 at 05:03 (3944 Views)
Wat Bang Phra - วัดบางพระ จังหวัดนครปฐม
Wat Bang Phra is located about 50km west of Bangkok and took us about an hour in a taxi from central Bangkok. The taxi cost 1500B and stayed with us for at least 10 hours. Not bad value for money.
This festival is held once a year during March and begins at 9.30am although you have to get there early to grab a good spot at it is attended by about 10,000 people. We arrived at about 6am!! The temple was already filling up by this time.
There appeared to be 3 main focal points to this festival. The first is obviously the tattooing which is done by the Monks and the ques to get tattooed were immense. The second is to pay respect to Luang Poh Pern, a monk who died about 2002. Luang Poh Pern was revered for his his magical tattoos, hence this being a tattoo festival. His body is on display in a glass coffin within one of the temples. The third 'attraction' is the religious side which is held in the huge car park. This area is absolutely jam packed with worshipers.
There are many photographers located to the front facing the crowd and most are Europeans. There is a reason for this. As the prayers increase in intensity, which is the only way i can describe it. Some of the followers become so overtaken with emotion or spirits they begin to growl, shout and perform an almost stamping style of tribal dance. The person will then run blindly, and it is blindly as they run through, past or over anyone in their way. Their destination is where the monks sit praying, only to be stopped by a human barrier of soldiers and volunteers. They will catch the person and hold them until the person 'recovers', and i presume to prevent the person from hurting themselves.
This is an amazing sight to see for the uneducated like me who struggle to understand occasions such as these.
Details about Wat Bang Phra can be found on Wikipedia