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Chiang Mai’s City Pillar Spiritual Ceremony – Inthakin 2012

May 17th to 24th, 2012 At Chedi – Luang temple, Chiang Mai

The Inthakin Festival is held annually to invoke blessings of peace, happiness and prosperity for the city and its residents in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is held at Wat Chedi Luang, one of the original temples of the old Chiang Mai, for 7 auspicious days and nights, in the seventh lunar month of the Lanna calendar. According the the old lunar calandar followed by the northern people in the former Lanna kingdom, the week of Inthakin Festival valls on the twelfth night of the period of the waning moon of the eighth month and continues until the fourth day of the waxing moon of the ninth month. The week-long ceremony takes place in 2012 from May 17-24.

Inthakin 2012 and Wat Chedi Luang

The main activities are in the afternoon of the first day, when an important Buddha image named Fon Saan Haa (literally one hundred thousand drops of rain) is taken from Wat Chedi Luang and paraded around Chiang Mai city, while local people sprinkle it with lustral water. The belief behind this is that those who take part in the ceremony will be blessed with good health and that rain will fall in the right at the right time of the season. The parade ends at Wat Chedi Luang where the seven days of Inthakin is held.

The crux of the Inthakin Festival revolves around a ceremony called Tam Boon Khan Dok – the way of merit-making by offering flowers, candle, and joss sticks in the bowls in teh front of the temple. Each evening, monks chant prayers and sprinkle lustral water, and bestow blessings on flok performances, such as the playing of the Saw, a Thai classical instrument, and the dancing of the Lance Dance, the Sword Dance, and the Muang Dance.

The rite of the Tham Boon Muang, the city merit-making ceremony, is observed at each of the four gates to the city, and each of the four corners of the ancient walls inside the city moat.

Evening Festival Events

In the evenings of this seven day festival, a large carnival takes place on the grounds of the temple. An enormous number of local people visit the temple to pay respects and make merit, and also to socialize and enjoy local food as well as games and a small ferris wheel (for children). It is worthwhile going just to see the place, which at night with all the lights and people, and the large Chedi, is quite atmospheric.

History of the City Pillar

The current city pillar was constructed in June 1893 Buddhist Era (1350 CE) in the reign of King Mengrai, who was the first king of the Lanna Kingdom. Traditionally, the pillar was sited at the geographic center fo the city in Wat Sadue Muang (Temple of the Navel), near the Three Kings Monument. However, as the temple fell into disrepair over 100 years ago (and was only recently rebuilt), the Inthakin Pillar was transferred to Wat Chedi Luang in the reign of King Kawilla.

Chiang Main’s Inthakin Pillar is now housed in its only special shrine called Vuiharn Jaturamook. It is noted that the pillar cannot be seen at any other time of year. Men may enter the shrine to see and pray while women are not permitted to enter the shrine, but may view through the entrance portals.

It should also be noted that females should also take care not to climb on top of the four corners of the moat structure, as the same taboos are in place at those locations. Local people can become distraught if this taboo is violated.

Inthakin 2012 and Wat Chedi Luang

Inthakin Program for 2012

May 17th, 2012

  • 1.30 pm – Party of Chiang Mai executive, officer, student, and Buddhist meet at Chedi – Lung temple.
  • 2.00 pm – Mayor and participants parade Fon-Saen-Ha Buddha image, along Pha-Pok-Klao rd. – Three king monument – Ratchawithi rd. – Chang Moi rd. – Thapae rd. – Ratchadamnoen rd. – Wat Chedi Luang.
  • 4.00 pm – Opening ceremony by the governor of Chiang Mai.
  • 5.00 pm – Blessing ceremony for the god of city pillar by 9 Buddhist monks
  • 7.00 pm – Lanna arts and cultural shows

May 18th – 23rd, 2012

  • 8.00 am – 10.00 pm – Buddhists pays homage by giving flower offerings to the god of city pillar.
  • 5.00 pm – Blessing ceremony for the god of city pillar by 9 Buddhist monks.

May 19th, 2012

  • 1.00 pm – The great ceremony for Buddha amulet of the city pillar god.

May 24th, 2012 (Closing ceremony)

  • 9.30 am – Mayor of Chiang Mai prays for Buddha image and gives food offerings to 108 monks.

For further information please feel free to contact TAT Chiang Mai at Tel. 66 (0) 5324 8604, 66 (0) 5324 8607 every day from 08.30-16.30 Hrs.

Inthakin 2012 and Wat Chedi Luang

Legend of Inthakin

Pra Mahaa Meun Wuttiyano of Wat Haw Wang, Chiang Mai, recounts the legend of Inthakin as follows:

The area which is the center of Lanna Kingdom was the residence of the Lua (One of Lanna ethnic group). It was a haunted city by bad spirits, causing troubles and hardship to its people. The god Indra (Pra In in Thai, King of gods or devas) then came to help them by bestowing 3 magic wells:

  • A well of gold,
  • A well of silver, and
  • A well of crystals

in the center of the city. The Indra god ordered nine clans to take care of the magic wells, 3 clans each and named the city Nopaburi after the 9 clans (Nop or นพ means nine). The Luas can come to these wells take the gold, silver and crystals and sell them to make a living or make their wishes and all will be granted-—but all these must fall under the condition that the Luas must hold the precepts and good virtues. Henceforth, the people follow this command and became happy and enjoyed their prosperity.

The news about the fortune in city spread to other cities and they wanted the share of the Lua’s wealth by sending troops to attack the Nopaburi city. The Lua became frightened and asked a Rishi (holy man) to go to report to the god Indra.

The god then ordered two giants to remove the sacred Lord Indra’s Inthakin (Intha = Indra, kin = pillar) pillar from heaven and drove it into the earth at the center of Nopaburi city. The enemy troops came in and by the power of the Inthakin, turned them into merchants.

These merchants came to ask the Lua people for some share of wealth. The Luas then told the merchants to follow the god Indra commands that they would hold fast to the virtues of honesty and shall not be greedy. Some of the merchants followed this path, others did not. This stirred up anger in the guardian giants so the giants removed the Inthakin pillar back to heaven.

The removal cause the magic power of the wells to fade. People began to suffer. At that time, a revered Lanna monk had made a prediction that in a few years from then the city would be devastated. The Luas became fearful for their future then asked the monk to help.

The monk brought the matter to the god Indra. Indra advised the Luas to make a big metal wok and then in it put figurines of all animals in pairs, men and women of all languages, and bury them under the ground and put the replica of heaven’s Inthakin on top. People shall come to worship this and live a virtuous life then the city will enjoy peace and prosperity again. The monk told this to the Luas and the people followed this tradition and the city has never again experienced a catastrophe up until today.

Inthakin 2012 and Wat Chedi Luang