Go Bananas At The Monkey Festival!
Get ready for the Monkey Buffet Festival Thailand 2011 happening at the Pra Prang Sam Yot temple this Sunday. This is an animal that I have a lot of experience with…unfortunately.
Monkeys are so not my favorite; they’re obnoxious, loud and just plain bothersome. Having said that, I would deny it all if I was attending this year’s monkey mayhem, because in the province and city of Lop Buri, about 90 miles from Bangkok, lots (to put it mildly) of long-tailed Macaque monkeys will be making their annual celebratory appearance in droves; not that they don’t roam freely every other day of the year, but one day out of the year, they’re treated like monkey kings!
This celebration was started 20 years ago by a local businessman named Yongyuth Kitwatananuson who set out a small feast for the monkeys to thank them for the tourist attraction they had become, bringing lots of money in. Each year, the monkeys attracted more tourists to the area and the tourist’s dollars continued to pour in. This sparked an annual “thank you” that has since become a national event, however, legend has it that the monkey population in Lop Buri are the descendants of Hanuman (according to the Ramayana, these are the people who made Lop Buri his kingdom).
In this area, monkeys are everywhere, so the tradition to set out an enormous feast for these mischievous creatures is not out of the norm once a year. This is the most talked about event held on the last Sunday of November every year.
This festival has gone from “just a buffet” for the expected monkey guests, to a full-ledged parade and cultural show. Vendors also hock souvenirs to the thousands of spectators that become mere pawns to the guests of honor.
The menu consists of fruit, eggs, cucumbers and tons of bananas. Last year, it’s said that these greedy guests of honor plowed through more than 4,000 pounds of food.
The local hosts don’t mind though, as they see “donating” the food as good karma and good fortune will be bestowed on them for their offering.
With all of this “we are the world” with the monkeys business, I find it a bit odd that once you’ve paid your 30 Baht or $1US entrance fee to watch gluttony at its best, one is given a stick to “help you ward off over inquisitive monkeys”. Seriously?