Known as muang phra, the “city of monks”, Nakhon is still the religious capital of the south, and the main centre for festivals. The most important of these are the Tamboon Deuan Sip, held during the waning of the moon in the tenth lunar month (either Sept or Oct), and the Hae Pha Khun That, which is held several times a year, but most importantly on Makha Puja, the February full moon, and on Visakha Puja, the May full moon. The purpose of Tamboon Deuan Sip is to pay homage to dead relatives and friends; it is believed that during this fifteen-day period all pret – ancestors who have been damned to hell – are allowed out to visit the world, and so their relatives perform a merit-making ceremony in the temples, presenting offerings from the first harvest to ease their suffering. A huge ten-day fair takes place at Thung Talaat park on the north side of town at this time, as well as processions, shadow plays and other theatrical performances. The Hae Pha Khun That also attracts people from all over the south, to pay homage to the relics of the Buddha at Wat Mahathat. The centrepiece of this ceremony is the Pha Phra Bot, a strip of yellow cloth many hundreds of metres long, which is carried in a spectacular procession around the chedi.

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