Songkarn New Year is one of the most colorful, festive and celebrated holiday in Thailand. It’s the time Thais can enjoy days off with friends and families to feast, have fun and make merit.

On a visit to Lisu Lodge just after the official Songkran festival ended, the people of Mae Dang District in Chiang Mai were performing their own Songkarn ceremony. It was by chance that we were able to experience this wonderful ceremony that is not seen very often.

The villagers gather around the ‘Makamong’ tree to pray. 

It was a “ Kum Salee” Buddhist ceremony. “Kum” means support and ” Salee” is the Bo Tree. During the ceremony, monks and villagers gather under a local tree called ‘Makamong’ to pray. People also prop long, thin timbers against the big Makamong tree to support this sacred tree which has been in this village for over 100 years. The ceremony is also extended a revered Bo (or Bodhi) tree in the village’s temple (According to the Buddhist manuscript, the Lord Buddha found enlightenment under the Bo tree). This ceremony is meant to symbolize a support for Buddhism.

The timber is decorated with garlands and gold paper.

The long timbers are decorated with gold paper, flowers and incense sticks. Individuals taking part in the ceremony would inscribe his or her name to the wood. The wooden pillars are, then, paraded around with music and dancing and later erected against the Bo tree. For a small community, it’s one of most special occasions.

The timbers were propped against the tree to support the revered old tree.

Written by Chananya Phataraprasit