Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Essential Lanna - Chiang Mai City Inthakin 2012

Wat Chedi Luang

Chiang Mai's Intakin festival which is held annually for seven days and seven nights around the end of May to the 1st week in June at the impressive Wat Chedi Luang Temple a focal point in centre of the old city.

Celebrating the Buddhist image of Phra Chao Fon Saen Ha thus invoking the annual rains and fertile soils. Join during the day, but more interestingly during the evenings with hundred's of local citizens to each place a small bundle of flowers among thousand's  along with burning incense at the ancient 'Pillar of the City' shrine and at all points around the Chedi thus strengthening traditional religious and community ties.

Bathe Buddha images resting in deep niches high in the pagoda's north and south facing facades by an intriguing pulley system and make merit by lighting a candle to your own Buddha depending on which day of the week you were born indicated by the different postures of the Buddha. Ring all the temple bells as you navigate clockwise around the Chedi, but please be careful not to knock the bells together!

Pay your respects in suitable covered clothing and enter into the recently renovated main hall taking in all the golden light, shimmer and shadow of the many Buddha images sitting shoulder to shoulder looking knowingly down upon you !

Intakin is the festival to see fine examples of traditional Lanna modest costume worn particularly by women carrying generations old finely crafted silver ceremonial bowls and woven basketry carrying delicate and lovingly folded fresh flowers and leaves to pay homage.

City Sentinels 'Ton Yang'  Trees

Marvel at the "Ton Yang" trees that tower over the Temple and the old city standing as sentinels, the city's silent judges and a daily reminder to follow a more sustainable society model in balance with nature. City legend tells us that if these great trees were to fall..the city of Chiang Mai will follow... So teaching and preserving cultural and environmental mindfulness.

Never fear this is Chiang Mai's traditional answer to the global takeover by 24/7 style consumerism!... with a never ending supply of tasty traditional snacks to sample and shop till you drop at the temple fair onnecting with the Mettasuksa Boys Temple School next door you will find a local version of thrill rides from another century..try the cage Ferris wheel for a slightly better view over all the bright neon's, sights, smells and sonic booms of a 'user friendly' traditional religious celebration  in Chiang Mai.

Caroline Marsh is co-founder of Chiang Mai based independent ethical tour operator http://www.trekkingcollective.com/ .."Expertise, Ethical travel and Authentic Experiences contribute to making a difference to local communities and the environment." passionate about new experiences, travel and environmental well being she writes for travel sites and coordinates local 'grassroots' community peoples actions for a better future for all.