Photographer's Note

Before the monsoon rains, in Laos and the Laotian areas of Thailand there are many ancient, fertility festivals. These are intended to awaken the spirits to send the rains again, for without the rains, the rice cannot grow. In Dan Sai, a village in the mountains of the North, on the boarder with Laos, they have their famous masked ghost dancers. However, they also have the traditional Mud Dancers. These men strip off and cover the bodies with mud, then, beating a rhythm with thick bamboo poles they dance through the streets. Mud is a mixture of earth and water, the two elements necessary for the rice to grow. The festival is called 'Pi Tak Khon' (spirits in the eyes of humans). They believe that they become possessed by the spirits of the forests and fields and that this ritual will please the spirits and bring the rains. These animist festivals pre-date Buddhism here and survive despite Buddhism, Buddhism being a very tolerant faith.

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Additional Photos by kevin o'sheehan (kevinos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1023 W: 173 N: 1802] (7517)
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