Great day to be a monk! Towya Monastery outside of Mae Sot is a sprawling complex of dorms, temples, and open pavilions with 100% Burmese roots. On the second day of Water Festival, hundreds of devout revelers gathered. A massive feast was laid out in a open air hall by dozens of busy young ladies, then a greeting line was arranged outside to offer the incumbent holy men some foods and sweets, almost like Halloween. To liven up the occasion, a percussion band of cymbals, bamboo clappers, and tom toms beat out a loud rhythm in 4-4 time. By the time the men-in-orange arrived at the mess hall, they each had a full garbage bag of tasties. Inside, the general public sat by whilst the monks dined six or seven to a low table. As they finished, they filed out, and then we were presented with food of the same sort to enjoy. It was a glorious meal with savory fish, fried chicken, pork, beef soup, and several different types of vegetables.
The Water Festival is five days long this year. The 1st day I assumed would be an explosion of joy from built-up pre-holiday tension, but nay! The scene escalates in intensity until the climax on Wednesday, Thai New Years. Tomorrow begins the bare-knuckle boxing competition between Thai and Burmese opponents; there are few rules, and matches only end in knock out, rarely going past the first round. Hopefully good photos are to follow!