Many festivals are linked to Buddhist or Brahman rituals and follow a lunar calendar. New Year, Songkran, is celebrated in mid-April by 'bathing' Buddha images, paying respects to monks and elders by sprinkling water over their hands, and generally tossing a lot of the H2O in the air for fun. Expect to be soaked unless you want to party-poop in your room. The sowing and harvesting of rice has given rise to a cycle of festivals. To kick off the official rice-planting season in early May, the king participates in an ancient Brahman ritual in a large field in central Bangkok. A Rocket Festival is held in May in the country's north-east, using a volatile mixture of bamboo and gunpowder to convince the sky to send rain for the new rice season. The rice harvest from September through to May leads to joyous local celebrations throughout Thailand. The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket and Trang, during which devout Chinese Buddhists eat only vegetarian food, runs for nine days from late-September to early-October. Merit-making processions are the most visible expression of this festival, but there are also ceremonies at Chinese temples. The Elephant Roundup in Surin in November is an elephantine festival popular with the kind of people who enjoy watching pachyderms play soccer. During the Loi Krathong Festival, held after the rainy season (usually in November), candle-lit floats are cast into waterways to bring good fortune for the coming year.
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