Satiated monkey…”Monkey Party” the alternative way for merit-making in Lopburi.
A Monkey Party festival in Lopburi province in Thailand is 1 from 10 bizarre festivals in the world. And, it is a significant event in Lopburi itself. This is an enjoyable and lively feast for both Thai and foreign tourists. It is taking place on the last Sunday of November annually. There is a huge banquet offer for monkeys which different theme and concept to be organized in each year. This festival can make well entertainment for any people both local and abroad. And one more thing, it is a potential happening to motivate a tourism that resulting to the local economy to be progressed as well.
Knowing Monkey Banquet
The Monkey Party is former called Monkey Banquet in English. However, it changes to use as Monkey Party instead later to be easier for retention. The Monkey Party in Lopburi is the remarkable event of the province which getting attention from people both local and foreigners for over 2 decades. This party first organized by Mr. Yongyut Kijwattananuson or Sia Yee (Sia means rich merchant in Chinese) the owner of Lopburi Inn group of hotel. He uses the monkey as a symbol of his business and has got a lot of success to his business continuously. So, he compensates to the monkey, Phra Kan God and the land of Lopburi by set up the banquet for monkeys until it becomes an annual festival of this province from time to then.
Lopburi is one of the strategic province located in central region of Thailand. This is an ancient city that was founded during the Dvaravati period (6th to 13th century AD). The era was influenced strongly by Indian culture and was a conglomerate of various kingdoms and principalities. Lopburi was named Lavo (or Lavapura) and was the capital of the Kingdom of Lavo, a kingdom separate, but connected to the Dvaravati states. And Phra Prang Sam Yot or The Three Holy Prangs in Lopburi, known as the monkey temple of Lopburi. Built during the second wave of Khmer power, Phra Prang Sam Yot is a former Mahayana Buddhist and Hindu Khmer-Lopburi style temple dedicated to the Trimurthi of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Phra Prang Sam Yot
It was built in the 13thcentury AD in the Bayon-style of Angkor. The Khmer ruler Jayavarman VII, builder of the Bayon and Angkor Thom, was a Mahayana Buddhist. But Hinduism was still a prominent religion of the area. Although Mahayana Buddhism did influence the region, it eventually became Theravada Buddhist under the Thais. The laterite spired structure was converted into a Theravada Buddhist temple in the 17th century by King Narai in Ayutthaya era and a brick Wiharn (shrine hall) was added to hold an Ayutthaya-style Buddha statue.
This is a specific spot where a lot of monkeys to join together. Todays, there a lot of tourists from all over the world come to sight cute and playful monkeys here until the Lopburi has its alias is “the city of monkeys” implicitly. Resulted many tourists are attracted by this so there is the Monkey Party festival annually. There are many food parades to be served to the monkeys in Chinese style banquet.
The banquet serving for more than 300 of monkeys live in the area of San Phra Kan Shrine and Phra Prang Sam Yot. The variety of food is prepared to serve the monkeys including to vegetables, fruits and assorted of sweet and desserts. These are monkey’s favorite things and also there is traditional culture show by the students in Lopburi too.
Belief of Monkey Party
In order that, the Monkey Party festival is taken place annually for all the monkeys who live in the area of San Phra Kan shrine. It was built in the 1950s and is constructed against the remains of a 11th century Khmer temple. The residents believe that they are a disciple of Phra Kan God or Chao Por Phra Karn the sacred spirit of this province, which is the gold-leaf coated Khmer-style statue. During Hindu times in Lavo, it was probably representative of Vishnu, but the Thais now revere it as a Buddha image. These monkeys then have been taken care by the dwellers well from that time on. Besides, this feast is also promoted to be the tourism event with the cooperation from both private and public segments in order to be the magnet event for the tourists to come to experience this significant activity here.
The objective to organize the event are;
- To take care the monkeys which is animal of the Lopburi province.
- To make an entertainment event and enhance the tourism of Lopburi.
When does the Monkey Party take place?
The Monkey Party was organized first time on Sunday, November 25th, 1989 with 35 Chinese style banquet tables. It was set up in 3 spots, which are The Three Holy Prangs, Phra Kan shrine, and Lopburi city market. And Major General MR. Krukrit Pramoj, former Prime Minister of Thailand participated in the event as well. In the years after, there has been a variety of format, banquet and concept for the event in each year. For example the Grand Monkey Buffet served on the biggest table in the world, Setting Monkey Buffet all across the country. The longest buffet table served to monkey and to people, the Monkey Buffet for fund raising, the Monkey Buffet for the oldest monkey, the floating Monkey Buffet etc.
Furthermore, there are many interesting activities which are different in each year i.e. the diverse of monkey’s food parades, art contest in many level both youth category and professional one, music performance of youth, international show, parachuting to bring the food to serve the monkeys, live and sound show etc.
The 8th ranking of the bizarre festival in the world
The Monkey Party, the 8th ranking of the bizarre festival in the world taken place in Lopburi province of Thailand. Some background is based on the story of Ramayana epic is to honor to Rama regarding to his kindness to give the reward to Hanuman with the land where become Lopburi. The buffet set up in front of the Three Holy Prangs consist of hundreds of fresh fruits and vegetables including ice-cream and drinks. Many entrepreneurs of hotel in Lopburi brought to serve them wholeheartedly as this event is attracting to a lot of people to come to visit here every year.