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Thai celebrates Rocket Festival to mark season's change

05-14-2012 14:43 BJT

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Thai villagers kicked off an annual rocket festival in the country's Northeast on Sunday. The festival, which will last for 3 days, is a traditional marker of the season's change.

The event, which takes place in Yasothon, 531 kilometers Northeast of Bangkok, attracted hundreds of people. 26 home-made rockets - made of nine-meter plastic tubes filled with some 120 kg, or more, of gunpowder will be sent up. The goal is to keep them airborne for the longest possible time. As a result, many builders opt for modern materials and design over traditional ones.

Somporn Intra, competitor, said, "Special features are found in the tail and also in how it is launched. We need to make it stable to stay aloft longer."

A prize of 150,000 baht, or 5000 US dollars, goes to the winner. The launch has been going on for around a century. It marks the end of the dry season and the start of the monsoons, when farmers plant rice. The villagers fire rockets skyward to pay tribute to Vassacan - a local rain god who fertilizes fields and gives blessings of abundant crops. But many worry that space increasingly taken up by urban development might make it difficult for them to continue.

26 home-made rockets - made of nine-meter plastic tubes
filled with some 120 kg, or more, of gunpowder will be
sent up. The goal is to keep them airborne for the
longest possible time.

Wichai Saewong, competitor, said, "It is a Yasothon tradition that we're proud off. We have 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."

Locals hold their celebrations in spite of the rains. On the eve of the festival, women in traditional dress performed Northeastern dances as bands played country music. And of course the real stars - the rockets ready to jump skyward - were themselves on display as well. This year's festival looks set to be a real blast.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: CNTV.CN

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