The annual Temple Fair in Samut Prakan kicked off early this morning with the parade through town. The fair at Phra Samut Chedi has been going on now for 182 years which I believe makes it the longest running temple fair in Thailand. Certainly one of the oldest. In the olden days, people would come down from Bangkok by boat. Back then, this temple used to be in the middle of the river. These days it is now on the West Bank but the fair is still as popular. Leading the parade was the sacred red cloth which will later be wrapped around the pagoda in an important ceremony.
The opening ceremony early this morning was presided over by Mr. Surachai Khanasa, the Governor of Samut Prakan Province. Normally this starts at 8.30 a.m. every year. However, due to heavy rain and flooding last year they decided to move the ceremony to an earlier time of 7 a.m. Last year people marching in the parade had to wade through a foot of water. A high tide of 3.05 meters was due at 9 o’clock today and if it rained as well then it would have been really bad. We had floods yesterday at high tide even though it didn’t rain.
Once the nine monks had blessed everyone taking part in the ceremony, the parade through the town started. This was led by a float carrying the sacred red cloth. Following behind were numerous marching bands and also local schools and other organizations.
There were no big floats in this parade unlike the ones at Songkran and Loy Krathong. This is mainly because there are many stalls along the road and in the City Hall Plaza so very little room for anything large. The parade left at 7.30 a.m. and it took nearly an hour for us to see everything.
The highlights for us were probably the animals such as the elephant, monkeys and tigers. But the marching bands and the dancers were also very good. Many of the students from local schools dressed up using various themes. In front of the Provincial Police Station, there were judges who were giving scores for each of the groups in the parade.
The parade went on a circular route through the town as far as Taiban Circle and then back via the market. The float carrying the red cloth came back at a time when we still couldn’t see the end of the parade. So, I had to leave the parade at this time to follow the red cloth which was now being taken to the waterfront by a platoon of soldiers. Here a boat was waiting to take the red cloth and the Governor upriver to Phra Pradaeng. In this city they had a smaller parade for the red cloth before it was taken on its last journey by truck to Phra Samut Chedi. I will tell you about this next ceremony soon.
We are posting pictures of the Temple Fair every day on the Samut Prakan Forums.