On October 31, 2023, Acting Major Adisak Noisuwan, Deputy Governor of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, graced the opening ceremony of the 9th annual “Buddhist Rafting Tradition.” The event, aimed at fostering the spirit of merit-making among the Karen Pakakeyaw ethnic community, was led by Mr. Achawan Kongkanan, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Dignitaries from the Provincial Cultural Council, Sam Roi Yot District Chief Executive, Mayor of Salalai Subdistrict Administrative Organization, Border Patrol Police Station 145, Border Patrol Police Station 14, and numerous other agencies, along with residents of Pa Mak village and enthusiastic tourists, converged at Wat Pa Chang Khao in Ban Pa Mak Village, Salalai Subdistrict, Sam Roi Yot District, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
The tradition, organized under the guidance of Mr. Ritthidet Yucharoen, village headman of Pa Mak, serves as a community-building endeavor that carries forward the cultural heritage of the Karen Pakakeyaw ethnic group. It not only strengthens communal ties but also fosters an appreciation for the Buddhist traditions that culminate at the end of Buddhist Lent. The traditional merit-making ceremony, which involves floating on rafts and a monks’ procession, stands as a splendid cultural tradition within the Pga Knyaw ethnic Karen community.
The event’s rituals commence with villagers, united by a common purpose, crafting the Naga Prok on a bamboo palanquin, accompanied by the rhythmic beats of a long drum. This procession, intended to bring prosperity to the community, meanders through the village, collecting offerings of money and alms for the attending monks. Subsequently, the opening ceremony takes place, followed by a rafting ceremony, where monks are ferried along the Pranburi River three times, bestowing blessings upon the vital watercourse, as per the local beliefs. In the midst of persistent rainfall, the day concludes with the sharing of food with the monks and a continued outpouring of generosity from both villagers and tourists.
Mr. Prasert Thaiudomsap, Mayor of Salalai Subdistrict Administrative Organization, acknowledges the event’s success over the past nine years and highlights the collaboration within the community to preserve this cherished tradition. As tourist interest in the event steadily grows, he extends an invitation to visitors to experience the natural beauty of Ban Pa Mak, where about 700 residents earn their livelihoods through agriculture and the sale of agricultural products to travelers. He also urges visitors to embrace eco-friendly practices to protect the area’s pristine environment.
Mr. Achwan Kongkanan, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in Prachuap Khiri Khan, emphasizes TAT’s involvement in supporting the event by offering discounts to tourists who camp overnight and by actively participating in the merit-making ceremony. He points out that Ban Pa Mak is renowned for its Robusta coffee, and TAT encourages tourists to savor this local product and purchase agricultural goods, thus contributing to the community’s economic well-being.
One attendee, Mr. Thongchai Pengson, who has frequented Ban Pa Mak, expressed his admiration for the village’s natural beauty and the warm welcome extended by the locals. He shared that he, along with a group of friends, has visited the village numerous times, participating in activities such as distributing food to villagers, camping overnight, and engaging in the merit-making rafting ceremony for the monks. Mr. Pengson affirmed his intent to return in the following year, this time with his family in tow.