Chiang Mai’s Wat Pa Pao Temple is getting ready to stage the 2018 Poy Sang Long Festival. The Buddhist ordination ceremony for young monks is a three-day celebration of culture and traditions set to take place between the 4 and 6 April. Every year, the Poy Sang Long festivities see Wat Pa Pao turned into a hive of activity.
The first two days of the festival feature parades in which the soon-to-be monks are carried to the temple. Before setting off the young boys are dressed in elegant clothes good enough for an ancient prince. The troupes carrying the boys are accompanied by budding musicians clashing cymbals, banging drums and blowing horns.
The third and last day of Poy Sang Long is more serious and when the young monks are actually ordained. Their heads and eyebrows are shaved first and they then put on monks’ robes. Most of the boys only stay in the temple for a few days at most, but some do remain longer. During their time at the temple the boys learn the basics of Buddhist philosophy.
The boys who are ordained are typically older than seven and no more than 14 years old. Poy Sang Long is believed to be an old tradition of the Shan and Tai Yai ethnic tribes. In Chiang Mai, Wat Pa Pao together with Wat Ku Tao hold the Poy Sang Long Festival. It is also celebrated at temples in Mae Hong Son. Wat Pa Pao is located on Manee Nopparat Road and directly across from Chiang Mai Old City.