Sithan KKU Festival, a spectacular traditional event and a prototype for giving life to culture

Boon Somma Bucha Nak” at Sithan Festival will provoke the belief of Isan ‘Heet Khong’ through a new cultural pattern that creates ‘faith, entertainment and cultures’ 

        The art and cultural nurturing mission of Khon Kaen University has clearly made a turn point with the phrase: “creative culture” that has now frequently been used in many events, especially the Si Than Festival. This can be thought of as a successful attempt to nurture gracious tradition and culture and at the same time the event has been adjusted to merge with the present time in order to attract the attention of all generations towards the valuable heritage and identity of the region. People who come to the festival no longer feel the obsolete culture and tradition. The words, “No obsession towards the old, no infatuation towards the new”, as said by a scholar, will make us survive in the 21st Century. 

         The 4th Si Than Festival will be the prototype of the use of creative culture in organizing ‘loy krathong’ activities at Si Than lake of Khon Kaen University, which have been held each year for a long time. However, it has been lately organized under the new title that attracts more visitors who have flooded to the event in a hundred thousand in number because of the 3-day theme of “faith, entertainment and cultures”. 

        2019 will mark another change through the university’s administrative policy that accents changes that catch up with the world situation, i.e., the Transformation Policy. Si Than Festival therefore has the new title to denote the identity of the event that match Isan faith, “Si Than Festival “Boon Somma Bucha Nak” or shortly Sithan KKU Festival 2019.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham, Vice President for Art, Culture and Creative Economy of Khon Kaen University
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham, Vice President for Art, Culture and Creative Economy of Khon Kaen University

        Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham, Vice President for Art, Culture and Creative Economy of Khon Kaen University related that it was the remark of Dr. Narongchai Arkaraseranee, President of Khon Kaen University Council to see the change of activities that attract people’s attention towards culture and tradition that match with the university’s mission until they remember the new identity and images, and that answer Isan ‘Heet Khong’. The university has therefore created the ‘loy krathong’ tradition that has been practiced for a long time into “Si Than Festival”, that has the new features but still maintains the goodness of traditional heritage. The essence of “Loy krathong” is to ask for forgiveness from the water, which is closely associated with people, and therefore is called Boon Somma Bucha Nam”. At the first stage, the activities were organized to make people understand the meaning of this term by means of the beautiful atmosphere that also conveyed the meaning of faith, not just floating something in water. 

        The success of Si Than Festival “Boon Somma Bucha Nam” has succeeded towards the 4th year. It is time to upgrade the essential meaning of the festival with tangible concreteness, clearer image but maintain at the same time the true meaning. This led to the new name “Si Than Festival “Boon Somma Bucha Nak”, with the former belief that “Nak” and “Nam” represent the same thing, which is also the faith of people in this region, as can be seen in the ancient art object, “Thap Lang Naraya Banthom Sin”, the word ‘sin’ meaning river or stream. The sculpture of the great snake represents water according to old belief. Animation of the great snake has not only been done to answer the mission behind the activities, but everything has been done after consultation with gurus. It is believed that all of these must be based on cultural foundation, not just assumptions. From the study of “Lan Chang or Isan” legend, it was found that city building was tied with the belief of the great snake, such as the greath snakes from 15 families. This was part of the establishment of Lan Chang or Isan territory. Therefore, it is justified for us to use the theme of “Bucha Nak” since this also means gratefulness towards the water. Besides, ‘Bucha Nam or Nak”, asking forgiveness from the water that our lives depend on also denotes fertility, which is the identity of KKU campus that is full of beautiful woods, the campus with good-minded people. Everything good will form “Si Than Festival Boon Somma Bucha Nak”.

        Si Than Festival “Boon Somma Bucha Nak” this year is scheduled for 3 days as before on November 9-11, 2019 at Si Than Lake of Khon Kaen University. The concept of all important activities that is held within the three days is “faith, entertainment and cultures”. The place will be decorated and the activities will be based on the identity of the festival name that accents the great snake as the major symbol of various components in the festival such as ‘tung’ or flags and lanterns. A pagoda will be built for visitors to worship, 40 great snakes will be made, 3000 great snake lanterns will decorate all over, and .  The great snake ‘tung’ will be made from the imagination of lecturers, students, folk sages and local craftsmen, showing cultural roots that have been taught to the students

      The activities will be cooperated by students and lecturers of many faculties such as Fine aneld Applied Arts, Architecture, Humanities and Social Sciences, Education, Law, etc. Collaboration will lead to completeness. On the first day, the day of ‘faith’, there will be a procession that carries Lord Buddha’s Relics for prosperity and for the opening ceremony. Another procession will be the float of the 15 families of the great snakes and the float of trays for paying homage to the 50-year Luang Pho Phra Sri of KKU, followed by coronation of Luang Pho Sai Khaw, Phra Uppakhut invitation ceremony, and the paying homage ceremony towars the great snake. The next day features fun and colorful activities of KKU carnival. The last day is the important day for ‘giving life to culture’ which will feature “Loy Krathong” and lighting lanterns according to the tradition. In addition, every day will feature cultural activities at the activity lawn to nurture Isan art, culture, and craft, lit krathong, and lit boat at the middle of the lake. There will be the Creative Walking Street, folk music contest, Isan indigenous performance contest, Isan puppet show, the hard-to-see Pramothai movie, Nang Noppamas Contest, and Miss KKU Angel contest. 

      “I’d life KKU folks to show their pride of the festival that arises from collaboration of the students, staff, and everyone who see the return of the dead culture that has been recreated for young generation to see valuable things. We’d like everyone to see that what Khon Kaen University is doing is an important model that proves that culture never dies if we know how to live with it and use it creatively”, said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham. 

        Follow the news and details of Si Than Festival “Boon Somma Bucha Nak” from: Sithan KKU Festival   

Written by: Udomchai Supannawong 

Thai ]


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