Lotus Throwing Festival
The Lotus Throwing Festival takes place across three days, starting on the 14th day of the waxing moon in the 11th lunar month. This usually falls in October.
In 2016 it took place from October 15th – 17th. Start checking around on the internet closer to the time for 2017’s dates.
Rab Bua – better known to foreign visitors as the Lotus Throwing Festival – is a large and unusual event which marks Awk Pansa; the end of the Buddhist Lent.
While the festival does technically last for three days, and there are a number of contests and performances, by far the biggest event is the floating procession.
Each year thousands of people stand along the banks of the Samrong Canal, and hurl lotuses towards a boat which sails along with a golden Buddha on board.
Aside from the main religious boat, many other vessels pack out the canal. They contain a variety of VIPs (and beauty contest winners), and the locals also throw lotus flowers towards them as a show of respect. Following behind are also dozens (perhaps even hundreds) of other, smaller boats sailed by local people.
Please be aware that the Lotus Throwing Festival begins very early in the morning (make sure you lay off the Chang the night before). The crowds start to form as early as 4am, and by 6am you’ll struggle to get a good spot. The main floating procession should start at some point between 7am and 8am.
The Buddha sailing down the canal represents the monks’ re-emergence from their monasteries, after having stayed there for three months for Lent. The main reason why the lotuses are thrown to the Buddha is as a show of respect. There is a more selfish reason for it too, however: it’s said that if your lotus lands in the lap of the Buddha, you’ll be blessed with good fortune.
The lotus is an extremely symbolic flower in Thailand. Specifically, to the Thai people the lotus represents a purity of spirit. Over the centuries it has become closely tied to Buddhism, often being included in paintings and murals with the Buddha, and it’s frequently found in Buddhist temples.
Rab Bua, or the Lotus Throwing Festival, takes place on the Samrong Canal. The celebrations happen in the town of Bang Phli, which is in Samut Prakan province. It’s very close to Bangkok; only around 30km to the southeast (in fact, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is actually located there). The center of the celebrations is Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai.
Because of its proximity to the capital city, reaching Bang Phli is easy. If you value convenience over cost, you can simply take a taxi there from central Bangkok, and you still won’t break the bank. Alternatively you can get a songthaew (a big, public taxi) to Bang Phli from outside the Bearing BTS station.