The Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival

A merit-making ceremony practiced throughout much of NE-Thailand (Issan) and Laos before the rainy season

The Rocket Festival (Bun Bang Fai) is a merit-making ceremony practiced throughout  NE-Thailand (Issan) and Laos before the rainy season. Celebrations traditionally include music and dance performances, processions of floats and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets. The locals carry out bets on how much time the rocket of a certain village stays in the sky. 

These festivals are presumed to have evolved from pre-Buddhist fertility rites held to celebrate and encourage the coming of the rains, from before the 9th Century discovery of black powder. 

Bang Fai are made from bamboo bongs. Most contemporary ones, however, are enclosed in pvc piping, making them less dangerous by standardizing their sizes and black powder charges . 

Bang Fai come in various sizes, competing in several categories.Some extremely large as well as extremely expensive and extremely dangerous: Bang Fai Lan are nine metres long and charged with 120 kg of black powder. These may reach altitudes reckoned in kilometers, and travel dozens of kilometers down range . Competing rockets are scored for apparent height, distance, and beauty of the vapor trail. A few also include parachutes, but most fall where they may.

The 4 min. video preview shows the competition of firing the home-made rockets near the city of SiSaKet, NE-Thailand. You can see this Video in HD mode and in full screen at Youtube ( clicking on the "watch in HD" icon at the YouTube player):  










Copyright 2009 mickspatz