Laos & Thailand | May 2019
If you happen to be in Laos and the northeastern provinces of Thailand like Yasothon and Roi Et in May, chances are you’ll bump into a procession of people out celebrating the rocket festival. It’s one of Laos’ and Thailand’s much-loved and most thrilling way to communicate with the gods. “Bun Bang Fai” or Rocket Festival has become an important part of the fertility rites observed for strong and healthy rice crops. When farmers prepare for the growing season along the Mekong River in May, villages from near and far create rockets and launch them into the sky. Fast and furious rockets go heavenward in a message to Hang, the god of rain, to send downpours to help their rice grow.
It does not take a rocket scientist or aerospace engineer to make these rockets fly. The masters are typically monks with a knowledge of gunpowder and a good sense of air motion experts enough to send the rocket to where the gods dwell. But be cautious, some rockets have a poor sense of direction!