Wax Castle Festival 2023

Sakon Nakhon’s Wax Castle Festival or Prasat Phueng Parade is one of the most elaborate ceremonies commemorating the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat.
Sakon Nakhon, Thailand
23 October 2023

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The Wax Castle Festival or Prasat Phueng Parade is a unique event celebrated in the northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon that marks the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat or Vassa. This year, the eight-day festival will take place from October 23rd to 29th. 

On this occasion, local artists compete to sculpt intricate parade floats of Buddhist temples, shrines, or castles out of beeswax. The parade will take place on October 28th, 2023, starting at Chaloem Phrakiat 80th Anniversary Park and making its way to Wat Phra That Choeng Chum, a major temple and religious site in Thailand.

The heavenly palace of Trayastrimsa

A wax sculpture of Trayastrimsa, one of the heavens in Buddhist cosmology
Source: Thampitakkull Jakkree / Shutterstock.com

Similar to the Illuminated Boat Procession (Lai Ruea Fai), the Wax Castle Festival marks the occasion of Gautama Buddha’s return from Trayastrimsa, one of the heavens in Buddhist cosmology. According to Buddhist lore (🇹🇭), he descended to Earth after Vassa, giving a glimpse of heaven. During his descent, commoners beheld a majestic palace (or castle) where the angels reside.

The Wax Castle Festival, therefore, pays homage to the angelic palace on Trayastrimsa. Festival-goers pay their respects to the sculptures in the hopes of receiving heavenly blessings and of being rewarded in their next incarnation with living at the angelic castle.

Buddhist relics at Wat Phra That Choeng Chum

Wat Phra That Choeng Chum in Sakon Nakhon
Source: amnat11 / Shutterstock.com

As recorded in the ancient chronicles of Urangkathat, the sacred site was built to enshrine the esteemed footprints of the four incarnations of the Buddha: Kakusandha Buddha, Koṇāgamana Buddha, Kassapa Buddha, and Gautama Buddha. It is also believed that the fifth incarnation, Maitreya Buddha, will come to leave his footprint in the future.

According to “The History of Prasat Phueng (🇹🇭)” on the Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ website, nearby communities were originally responsible for the temple’s upkeep. These communities are referred to as Kha Phra That, or servants of the Buddha relics, and are exempt from taxation.

As the communities grew, respect for the temple reached new heights. Wat Phra That Choeng Chum became a religious icon for Sakon Nakhon and a vital aspect of the local way of life, long after their legal obligations to the temple were lifted. The temple’s religious significance makes it the natural destination of the Prasat Phueng Parade.

Sakon Nakhon festivities

The Wax Castle Festival is known for its variety of unique local experiences, from traditional performances, music shows, the wax flower stick exhibition, food stalls, OTOP market, and the Phu Phan Viewpoint cycling tour.

Apart from that, the province also hosts a longboat-racing competition for the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Trophy at Nong Han Reservoir.