Rocket Festival held annually over the second weekend of May, the festival includes as a main feature the rocket procession in which entries of various sizes, varying according
to the amount of saltpeter, are intricately decorated. A rocket dance accompanying the procession is joined by the townspeople of all ages and may stretch for as long as several kilometers. The rockets will be launched on the second day of the festival.
Rocket Festival Procession
Throughout much of Northeastern Thailand, the Thai Rocket Festival is held every year on the second week of May. This festival marks the beginning of the
rice growing season. Rockets are built and launched into the sky to worship the god of rain, Phaya Tan. The people believe if Phaya Tan is pleased by their actions, he will deliver the rains necessary for a successful rice harvest.
Yasothon is known to have the most impressive rocket festival in all of Thailand.
The Musical Accompanists
Many years ago, during the time when the Lord Buddha was born as a toad, Phaya Tan was very angry with the people. Phaya Tan decided to punish the people by withholding
the life giving rains. During this time of severe drought, all the people, plants, and animals suffered greatly. As the drought continoued, most of the living creatures died
from lack of water. After 7 months, the surviving people and animals rallied together and went to consult with Lord Buddha, the toad. After much discussion, they decided
Phaya Naki, the giant snake, should lead them into the battle with Phaya Tan. But, Phaya Tan was too powerful and defeated Phaya Naki and his troops. Buddha, the
people, and the animals then sent Phaya Dtaw, the wasp, and Phaya Dtan, the hornet to engage Phaya Tan. But, once again, Phaya Tan defeated the attackers, returning them
home hopeless for victory and awaiting unescapable death from drought.
The Musical Accompanists
Finally, Buddha, the toad, planned an attack with termites building mounds into the sky along which scorpions and centipeds would travel into the battle
against Phaya Tan and his forces. Moths aided the offensive by destroying the wooden handles of the enemies' weapons. Phaya Tan was overwhelmed by the coordinated
effort of Buddha's attack. Buddha accepted Phaya Tan's surrender under the conditions that he provide the rains immeddiately and in the future, if he should forget, the people will remind him by
launching rockets, at which time he will start the rains. The songs of the frogs will inform Phaya Tan the rains are being received and when he hears the sounds of the farmers' rattand wind chimes attached to
kites, he will know to cease the rains as the harvest time is soon approaching.