Phi Ta Khon Festival has its origin in a traditional Buddhist
tale. When Prince Vessandorn, the Buddha's penultimate incarnation, returned to his city. the welcoming procession was so delightful
that spirits emerged to celebrate. Phi Ta Khon is celebrated largely by young men who dress as spirits to parade a sacred
and tease villagers, and monks reciting the story of the Buddha's last great incarnation before attaining Enlightenment.
Ghosts holding palad khik (penis amulet)
Phi Ta Khon (the Ghost Festival) is the most common name for a group of festivals held in Dan Sai, Loei province, I-san, Thailand. The events take place over three days some time between March and July, the dates being selected annually by the town’s mediums.
The whole event is called Bun Luang. It is composed of a number of individual festivals: Phi Ta Khon, the Ghost Festival; the Rocket Festival; and Bun Pra Wate, a merit-making ceremony normally held in March.
The first day is the Ghost Festival itself; it is also called Wan Ruam (assembly day). The town’s residents invite protection from Phra U-pakut, the spirit of the Mun river. They then hold a series of games and take part in a procession wearing masks made of rice husks or coconut leaves with hats made from rice steamers, plus patchwork clothing. They also wear bells and wave wooden phalluses. The origins of this part of the festival are traditionally ascribed to a Jataka story in which the Buddha made a long journey and was presumed dead. The celebrations on his return were so raucous as to wake the dead.
Villagers greet the medium (day 2)
The second day of the festival incorporates elements of the Rocket Festival, plus various costume and dance contests and more parades.
On the third and final day, the villagers listen to sermons.