Chak Phra has been a long tradition of Samui. It started since a temple became a center of communities, following by several traditions including Wan Ook Pansa or the Final Day of the Lental Season.
In Buddhist’s legend, Lord Buddha went to heaven to deliver a sermon to his mother. After completing his mission in heaven, Lord Buddha then returned to earth and was greeted by a crowd of his disciples and followers. The events of Lord Buddha’s return to earth and annually take place immediately after the end o f the 3- months Rains Retreat.
Chak Phra Festival then started after this legend. When Wan Ook Pansa comes, many temples would decorate their parade with Buddha’s statues. Some of the temples would float the boat (with Buddha statue in it) to certain town for people to pray and worship for a night. There are monks praying at night and some local performances. And they would come back to the temple next morning. Chak Phra literally means “pulling of the Buddhist monks.”
To mark this occasion, two float-pulling ceremonies are held, one on land and the other on water. On land, the splendidly adorned floats are pulled across the town by the participants of the ceremony. At the same time, on water, the ceremony is highlighted by a float decorated in colourful Thai design of a float made to carry the Buddha image. This float is then towed to the middle of the river for a religious ceremony. On the following day, the float carrying the Buddha image is towed along the river so that river so that people can worship and make merit.
Both land and river events are highly colourful. The participants would dress nicely and there are many songs and traditional performances. The Chak Phra festival then concludes with an exciting boat race and a traditional game.