- Title: THAILAND: Villagers welome the monsoon season with annual rocket festival
- Date: 14th May 2012
- Summary: VILLAGERS CARRYING ROCKET AND WALKING ROCKET TAKING OFF
- Embargoed: 29th May 2012 13:00
- Location: Thailand
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Environment,Quirky,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVAEC9410BE8QAITLZS1F48D9SC1
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Hundreds of Thai villagers participated in an annual rocket festival in the northeastern part of the country on Sunday (May 13) to mark the start of the rainy season.
This year 26 home-made "bang-fai" were launched at the event held in Yasothon, 531 kilometres (330 miles) northeast of Bangkok.
Villagers believe that firing rockets into the sky is a way of paying tribute to Vassacan, the local rain god who will fertilize the fields and bless the agricultural community with abundant crops.
The rockets are made of nine-metre plastic tubes filled with at least 120 kg (265 lbs) of gunpowder and their creators seek to keep them airborne for the longest possible time.
"The special mechanism is in the tail and also in how it is launched. We need to make it stable for it to stay longer in the sky," said Somporn Intra, 38-year-old competitor.
The rocket launch has been going on for around a century to mark the end of the dry season and the start of the monsoons, when farmers plant rice.
There is a prize of 150,000 baht (5000 USD) for the rocket that stays aloft the longest.
And rocket creators seeking to win opt for lighter plastic pipes as their material of choice over traditional bamboo.
But participants worry that a lack of space, due to urban development, might make it difficult for them to continue.
"It is a Yasothon tradition that we're proud off. We have this had this tradition for a very long time and we have tried to maintain it. But nowadays it is very difficult to find a place to launch the rockets," said Wichai Saenwong, a 56-year-old competitor.
On the eve of the festival, local residents held a procession of traditional rockets decorated with gold paper, paint and flowers along with the rockets due to be launched in the festival which lasts for three days.
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