On the sixth full moon of the lunar year, Buddhists worldwide celebrate the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing away. Celebrations are held in local temples – worshipers hold candlelight processions there, and the day is marked with much chanting and religious instruction.
This noisy holiday of Bun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival) traces its roots to pre-Buddhist rain ceremonies, and occurs together with Visakha Puja. Anarchy reigns on this day – the humorous performance art known as mor lam is performed in many places, and in some places, men wear blackface and women carry wooden penises.
The whole festival reaches a climax when townsfolk fire bamboo rockets skyward. The rockets are meant to bring rains from the heavens and irrigate the rice fields.