By The Nation
Yasothon governor Nikorn Suksai presided over the festival’s official opening on Saturday by lighting the first rocket, which asks for predictable rainfall. The festival began on May 9 and ran through May 13.
Local communities submitted to the contest 22 Bang Fai Saen (the category featuring the largest traditional pipe-made rockets containing more than 120 kilograms of gunpowder) and 65 fancy Bang Fai rockets, while other Bang Fai rockets from Japan, Laos, Vietnam and South Korea also joined in for the special display.
Residents from Chichibu, for 24 years Yasothon’s sister city in Japan’s Saitama Prefecture, participated in the important festival as they have done in past years.
The festival’s events over the first three days included the display of rockets and a contest among cheering squads on Wednesday, a parade and contest featuring beautiful rockets on Thursday, and a rocket launching contest in search of the rocket that could stay aloft for the longest time.
The “Bun Bang Fai” annual festivals are organised during this period in north-eastern provinces including Yasothon, Si Sa Ket, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kalasin, Roi Et, Nong Khai, and Udon Thani as well as in the neighbouring country of Laos. It is based on a folktale about Phraya Thaen who oversees rain-making and is fond of fire - hence the building of "fire rockets" to please him.