Like Holy Ghost Festival Hawaii, Hungry Buddhism Ghost Festival in Thailand is also famous. The ghost festival, known as Phi Ta Khon, is a masked procession on the first day of a three day Buddhist holiday known as Boon Pra Wate. This is an annual festival that takes place either in May, June or July in a small town called Dan Sai which is situated in northeastern province of Loei.
The masked procession is marked by a lot of music and dancing with the participants dressed up as ghosts and monsters. Participants in the procession wear huge masks made from coconut tree trunks.
The origin of the ghost festival is unclear though folklore has it that in Buddha next to last life, he was reincarnated as Prince Vessandorn. The prince went on an extremely long trip and his subjects either forgot him or presumed him dead. When the prince returned, his subjects were overjoyed to see him and welcomed him back with a celebration so loud that the dead woke up and joined in the fun. Ever since the festival is celebrated with the participants donning masks.
On the second day of Boon Pra Wate, villagers dance all the way to the temple and fire bamboo rockets to signal the end of the procession. Festival organizers are known to hold contests for the Best Mask, Best Costume, Best Dancer etc. Brass plaques are awarded to winners in each age category. The most popular contest is the dancing contest.
The third and final day, villagers gather at the local temple to listen to the message of the thirteen sermons of Lord Buddha which are recited by the local monks. After this, the participants put away their masks and costumes for the next year and return to their paddy fields to resume rice farming which had come to a standstill for three days on account of Phi Ta Khon and Boon Pra Wate.