On Thursday, May 30th, crowds of people gathered together at Wat Chedi Luang to kick off the annual Inthakin City Pillar Festival. At approximately 2:30 pm, an important Buddha image named Fon Saen Haa (translated as five hundred thousand raindrops) was paraded in a rain ceremony through the streets of Prapokklao Road, passed the Three Kings Monument, down Tha Pae Road, and eventually brought back to Wat Chedi Luang to mark the beginning of the festival which will continue to run for 7 evenings. Government and municipal officials led the march of the parade, while locals, students, as well as tourists lined up in the scorching heat of the sun to catch sight of the buddha image and to pay their respects. Devoted Buddhists bowed their heads to say quick prayers to the passing Buddha image in order to ask for an abundance of rain for this season. A shower of blessings came upon the city as prayers were prompty answered with rain falling upon the area later in the afternoon.
Inthakin Festival is an 8-day running festival which takes place according to the lunar calendar – usually between the months of May and June. This year, the festivities have started on Thursday, May 30th, and will end on the evening of June 6th. Every morning around 8am till the evening, Wat Jedi Luang will have vendors selling flowers, incense sticks, and candles to be offered up to the city pillar and buddha images. Plenty of street food will be available on the temple grounds as well.
The Inthakin festival is held in honour and celebration of the Chiang Mai city pillar and the guardian spirits. According to an ancient Thai legend, Chiang Mai, back in its time of origin, had been plagued with demons and disasters. In hopes of turning the fate of the city around, a hermit prayed to the Hindu god, Indra, for help. Soon after, a pillar was sent from the heavens to protect the city and its people against harm, and peace finally prevailed. However, as many years passed by, the citizens of Chiang Mai began to neglect the significance of the pillar – leaving the city to be once again vulnerable to destruction. In 1296, King Mengrai located the forgotten city pillar at Wat Sadue Muang, which was later moved to be kept at Wat Chedi Luang, where it is currently placed. The festival is held yearly in remembrance of its significance and as evidence of how much the people value the city pillar. The festival is open to the public for the rest of the week, so locals and visitors can still come out these next several days to make merit at Wat Chedi Luang, enjoy the musical performances, traditional Thai food, and the bustling ambiance.
Date: March 30 – June 6
Time: 8am to 7pm
Where: Wat Chedi Luang