Festivals of the Tai Khamtis
Mai Ko Sum Fai
Mai Ko Sum Fai is a ritual ceremony held on the full moon day of Magha connected with the worship of fire. A stupa like shape structure is made up with stack of fire wood. The entire stack of fire wood is then offered to the Buddha. A feast is organized and the stack is set into fire early in the morning.
Sangken festival, which falls in the fifth month of Noun Ha in the lunar calendar coinciding with the Gregorian month of April, bids goodbye to the old year and ushers in the new year. It is celebrated for three consecutive days. On the first day and at an auspicious time, the images of Lord Buddha are taken out of the shrine, given a ceremonial bath and placed in the 'Kyongfra’ to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. People pray, offer sweets and food as offerings in the temple and then distribute sweets and goodwill amongst all by pouring water over each other.
Buddha Jayanti (Purnima)
Buddha Jayanti or Purnima is a very important and auspicious day for the entire Buddhist community. People celebrate the thrice blessed day symbolizing Buddha's birth, enlightenment and salvation (Nirvana) with religious fervour and gaiety. Thus, Buddha Jayanti is a celebration of Buddha’s teachings of Ahimsa and Non –Violence.
Satang Khao-wa is the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada practitioners. Satang Khao-wa is a Tai Khampti word, it is popularly known as Vassa vaas in Pali language. In English, Vassa is often glossed as Rains Retreat. Taken place during the rainy season, Vassa Vaas lasts for three lunar months, usually from July to October. For the duration of Vassa, monks and nuns remain inside monasteries and temple grounds. In some monasteries, monks dedicate the Vassa to intensive meditation. During Satang Khao-wa, lay Buddhist devotees visit temples and abbeys to practice as well, sometimes adopting eight precepts for the day.
This festival marks the end of the three months Rains Retreat which commences with Satang Khao-wa. Lay devotees chant prayers to pay homage to the triple Gem accompanied by offerings of food, flowers, incense and other items. The devotees also undertake Five or Eight Precepts for the day from the head monks of the temple.
Kathina Civara Dana
'Kathina Civara Dana' or the 'robe offering ceremony' is held after the conclusion of Vassa Vaas (Rainy Retreat) of Theravada Buddhists when robes are offered to the monks. The ceremony concludes with ritual offering of Kathina Civara (robes) to monks and chanting of prayers for world peace.
The Poi-Leng festival popularly known as the Grand Chariot Festival is celebrated to pay obeisance to the departed monks as per Theravada Buddhist traditions. The monks and villagers decide the day to observe the celebration and accordingly a committee is formed to overlook the celebration. The mortal remains of the monks are installed on an artistically designed chariot and pulled by monks and devotees on either side thus symbolizing the participation in the last journey of the departed monks. Their mortal remains are embalmed using wax and tobacco for preservation before being kept in the coffin. Later it is kept in a makeshift stilt hut called the Kyong-Niban till the commencement of the festival. On the day of festival, the mortal remains of the monks are brought out from the Kyong-Niban and installed on the chariot (catafalque). After that a mass prayer is held before the chariot.
Poi Pee Mau
Poi Pee Mau - a New Year festival- is the celebration of the advent of a new dawn for the Tai community to usher a fresh era of socio-cultural development and is of paramount importance in uniting all Tais. The festival represents the cultural ethos, providing sustenance to it and ultimately promotes tourism and provides continuity to customs, tradition and culture. It is a celebration of oneness and a symbol to disseminate the rich cultural heritage and exotic cuisine of the Tai’s to the world.
Poy Lu Fra (Buddha Rupa Danna)
It is a ritual of offering of the sacred Buddha images. For a pious Khamti offering of sacred Buddha image is one the most wholesome offerings. It is considered that the merit accruing out of offering of sacred Buddha image is enormous and hence ceremony is conducted with great devotion and conviction. Besides the relatives, people in large numbers are invited by the host to share the merit of Buddha Rupa Danna. One feels it fortunate and lucky to participate on such event. The celebration generally organized with great festivity and last for three days . The day starts with offering of meals to monks and thereafter take refuge in Buddha, Dhamma Sangha , take Panca Sila ,Attha Sila and receive sermon from the monks. The second day is the most hectic day for the host. After the completion of routine ritual of devotion, sacred Buddha images are taken out in procession and make a round of entire village. On the third day sacred Buddha images along with holy books and sundry necessities are offered to monks. It may be noted that Buddha Rupa Dana is always accompanied with offering of sacred and holy Dhamma books. The ceremony is incomplete without offering of holy Dhamma books.
Poy Lu Kong-Mu
It is a ceremony connected with the offering of Stupa. The Khamtis consider offering of Stupa one of the most wholesome offerings that earn merits. Therefore, construction of Stupa is done by persons of higher moral standard and those who observe precepts and abstain from intoxications of alcohol and drugs. The ceremony is conducted in large scale with great festivity.
Poy Lu Lik
It is ritual of offering of holy books and sacred holy scripts. There is no fixed times for offering of holy books and sacred scripts. Such offering is generally made for good health, to excel in studies, success in employment, trade and so on.
Poi Pee Mau - a New Year festival- is the celebration of the advent of a new dawn for the Tai community to usher a fresh era of socio-cultural development and is of paramount importance in uniting all Tais.
Sangken - the water festival - Sangken festival, which falls in the fifth month of Noun Ha in the lunar calendar coinciding with the Gregorian month of April, bids goodbye to the old year and ushers in the new year.
Mai Ko Sum Fai is a ritual ceremony held on the full moon day of Magha connected with the worship of fire. A stupa like shape structure is made up with stack of fire wood. The entire stack of fire wood is then offered to the Buddha. A feast is organize