The origins of this festival lie in Buddhist legend. It is believed that the tradition follows in the footsteps of Prince Rahula, the Buddha's own son, who gave up his worldly life to follow his father's spiritual teachings. Prince Rahula became the youngest ordained monk and the first novice in Buddhism. Subsequently it became a tradition for young boys to be ordained so they can undertake the study of Buddhist teachings. With deep reverence for the Buddhist religion, the local residents in Mae Hong Son province are of the view that the celebrations should be as grand as possible.
A unique and colorful spectacle to witness, the Poi Sang Long ceremony is perhaps one of the most delightful festivals in Mae Hong Son, attracting people from far and wide.
“Rup Sang Long" day, the first day of the ceremony
The first day of the ceremony day begins with the boys having their hair shaved off by parents and relatives. They are then bathed and anointed with consecrated waters and dressed in brightly colored costumes. By the end of this process, the boys are now known as Sang Long
or Luuk Kaew
— precious gems.
A colorful procession makes it way through the streets of Mae Hong Son Municipality. In the earlier part of the day, the procession makes stops at the city pillar and various temples en route so the "Sang Long" can seek forgiveness from the abbot. By late afternoon, the boys are carried back home.
“Kham Kaek" day, the second day
On the second day, relatives, friends and guests stop by the house of the Sang Long host family in order to congratulate the family and present alms.
“Hae Krua Lu" day, the third day
On the third day, “Hae Krua Lu" day, the grand colorful procession is held in the morning. Well-attended by family members and individuals of importance in Mae Hong Son’s Shan community, the procession of the Sang Long features handmade floats, offerings for the temple, traditional dances. The procession starts out from Chong Kham and Chong Klang Temple in the heart of the city before it moves along the main streets of town and out to the temples.
“Kham Sang" day, the fourth day
The procession once again proceeds through the town and the Sang Long are escorted to Chong Kham and Chong Klang Temple for the formal ordination ceremony.
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