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Yipeng Festival
Making the Sapao
Sapao             The floating of light and sacrifice offerings along the waterway is called "long sapao" or "loi ruea samphao fai". In the old days according to the legend of Lampang City of the palm leaf version of Ban Hong Temple of Lampang, in the Haripunchai era around the 14th Century B.E., the town was invaded by a plague of cholera taking a great number of lives so people were evacuated from Haripunchai to Hongsawadi or Pegu of Myanmar and remained there for several years before returning.However, a number of them stayed on in Myanmar. Thus when they missed their kinfolks in Hongsawadi,
they arranged the custom of floating flowers and other sacrifice offerings in a boat or sapao in the Yipeng month. That is how the loi sapao or Loi Krathong festival was originated. (Manee Phayomyong, 2000, p.7)
            Loi Sapao in this manner has become an occasion for merit making and passing on the merit to the deceased relatives or for accruing merit for oneself for the next life. In the past, the people around Wualai Village of Tambon Nantharam, Mueang District, Chiang Mai helped make a sampao at a local temple. It turned out to be a big boat fixed on a bamboo raft filled with all kinds of practical items like pots, jars, clothing, food, etc. การลอยสะเปา
During the twilight of Yipeng, they would carry the boat to be floated in the Ping River. The procession was a fun-filled one accompanied by gongs, drums and other musical instruments playing all the way to the river to float the boat. After the boat had been allowed to drift for awhile, the poor people who waited in the water could come onto the boat and take whatever they wanted or could get.  Thus, this was actually another form of giving as merit making.  (Phrakhru Adunsilakit (Thanwutho) (Interview, Nov. 4, 2008)  Nowadays, the samphao group in Chiang Mai Municipality has revived the tradition of floating a sapao.  The Municipality also provides some financial assistance for many temples to make sapaos for floatinig.  Therefore, many communities in the jurisdiction have participated, namely those of Ban Chet Yod, Ban San Pa Khoi, Ban Wua Lai, Nantaram, Muensan, Wat Kate, etc.  they make large boats each year and floated them on Yipeng night starting at the pier at Wak Sikhong in Tambon Fa Ham.

Long Sapao in Lampang
            The occasion known as "Long Sapao Chao Wiang Lakon" is a famous tradition held in Lampang. It is participated in by all sectors of the province and has become one of its significant festivals of Yipeng.
            One cannot pinpoint exactly when the tradition originated in Lampang. But it appears that between B.E. 2440-2465, which was the last reign of the last city ruler named Chao Bunyawat Wongmanit, this tradition of making sapao luang was held. The big boat was put in front of the ruler's house. It was full of food and pottery sculptures of male and female servants as well as such animals as elephants, horses, bulls and buffalos. The boat was made after the style of the Chinese Samphao boat that was sent out for trading purposes. The masts were decorated with strings of lanterns. Before it was paraded around the town, the city ruler had to wash his hair in it. The procession headed toward the river at Chang Phueak pier (behind where the present day house of the governor is located). The people carried small boats and took them to float along both sides of the river. Legend has it that the city's ruler was so pleased with it that he named two of his daughters Sapaokaeo and Sapaokham (As told by Princess Bussabong). There was also a story about a sapao that got stuck at a place on the bank of the Wang River of Lampang and the place was named Den Sapao which nowadays is Sapao Village. (Bunchu Wongrak, personal communication, Dec. 17, 2008)

Beliefs related to the Long Sapao Festival in Lampang
            In Lampang the Long Sapao Festival takes place on the full moon night of Yipeng (the 12th lunar month of the Central Thai people) or Loi Kratong. It is meant to
            1. ask forgiveness from the water or the Ganges and to pay respect to the Hindu god Narai, who is the guardian of the Ganges River according to Brahmin belief, and to
            2. pay respect to the Buddha's footprint at the beach of the Nammatha River as a way to remind the believers of the Buddha.

The Bird Sapao
            The bird-shaped sapao is usually made from a banana trunk or a coconut split into two halves with the husk intact with it. After decorating it to look nice and creative, they will fill it with food and desserts as well as flowers. The bird shape reminds them of the story of the five Buddhas and the white crow.
The Bird Sapao The Bird Sapao

The Boat Sapao
            The frame of a boat-shaped sapao is made from wood covered with thin colored paper. It is believed that making merit by floating this kind of float will get one across the vast river to heaven in the same way as the belief about a boat that takes one across the eternal suffering to nirvana.
The Boat Sapao
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