The Poy Sang Long Ceremony takes place every year between March 20 and mid-April. This year it will be celebrated from the 4th to 6th of April, in Chiang Mai and other northern Thai towns, but the Mae Hong Son’s version has a unique flavour.
This colorful festival is an ordination ceremony celebrated according to Shan or Tai Yai‘s beliefs. Its name means “ordaining the beloved sons”. Young boys from 7 to 14 years old go to Shan temples to be ordained as novices. They will learn the tenets of Buddhist teaching and the self-discipline required of a monk. After being ordained they will stay in the monastery for a period of time that can vary from one week to many months.
On the first day of the festival, the boys have their heads shaved and are anointed with turmeric and dressed up in the colours of a Thai Yai prince, with traditional accessories: long white socks, plenty of jewellery, a head cloth
decorated with fresh flowers, a golden umbrella and heavy face make-up. They are then announced to the guardian spirit of the town and taken around the temples. The second day brings general merry-making and a spectacular parade, headed by a drummer and a richly decorated riderless horse, which is believed to carry the town’s guardian spirit. The boys, still in their finery, are each carried on the shoulders of a chaperone, accompanied by musicians and bearers of traditional offerings. In the evening, the novices tuck into a sumptuous meal, waited on by their parents and relatives, before the ordination ceremony in the temple on the third day.
In Chiang Mai, you can witness this beautiful ceremony at Pa Pao Temple, on Maninoparat Road