Phuan - Boon Kam Fa Festivals - March


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Celebrated in numerous Phuan communities around the North / North-East of the country in March

The Phuan Boon Kam Fa festival is held on the second day of the waxing moon in the third lunar month. The eve of the festival features various forms of folk entertainment and activities including cockfighting, toasting sticky rice in bamboo, etc. On the third day of the waxing moon in the third lunar month, the day of the Kam Fa Festival, people perform merit making and attend sermons, etc


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Who are the Phuan
Historical accounts of the Phuan appear in the Phongsavadan Muang Phuan, or Phuan Chronicle. It describes the Phuan State (or Xiangkhoang Province in Lao PDR today) when it was still an independent principality in the Lan Xan Kingdom before the 11th century, sharing alliances and waging war with other independent principalities within the Kingdom, including the cities of Vien Tiane and Luang Prabang (Vien Tiane Province and the city of Luang Prabang in Lao PDR today), until Xiangkhoang became a colony of Vientiane in 175​

In 1773 King Ong Bun (1767–1778) of Xiangkhoang gave his allegiance to King Taksin (1734–1782) of Siam by assembling a group of levies to help Siam seize Vien Tiane. As a result of that war, Siam resettled the Lao, including the Phuan, within its borders and this is considered to be the first Phuan migration into Thailand. In 1792, which coincided with the reign of King Rama 1 (1736–1809) of Siam, Xiangkhoang attempted to separate itself from Siam’s control. This resulted in the Siamese government raising an army to suppress the attempt with the help of King Nanthasen (1781–1850) of Vien Tiane, which at the time was still a colony of Siam. The ensuing war resulted in the second resettlement of a very large number of Lao, especially the Phuan, in Bangkok. In 1827, King Anouvong (1805–1828) [5] of Vien Tiane, which had an alliance with Vietnam, announced their freedom from Siam. Consequently, King Rama III (1787–1850) had to send a force of soldiers to suppress the movement. During that time, Prince Noi, the governor of Xiangkhoang which at the time was still a colony of Siam, transmitted intelligence to the Siamese army. King Anouvong was eventually captured by Siam and executed in Bangkok. King Anouvong’s ally Vietnam reacted by raising an army, seizing Xiangkhoang, capturing and executing Prince Noi, and holding the Xiangkhoang dynasty hostage in Vietnam. King Rama III then sent an army to successfully re-seize Xiangkhoang with a policy to resettle the Phuan in the cities of Samut Prakan, Phanat-nikhom (a district in Chon Buri Province today), and Cha Choeng Sao. The resettlement policy remained in effect up to the reign of King Rama IV (1804–1868) until the Phuan were increasingly scattered in different provinces including Supan Buri, Lop Buri, Sukhothai, Udon Thani, Petchaburi, and Nakonnayok for example. In 1885, the Haw (or Chinese hill farmers), who lived in the southern area of the People’s Republic of China as well as on the Thai-Laos border, assembled a force of soldiers and were able to seize Xiangkhoung. King Rama V (1853– 1910) had to send an army yet again to suppress the Haw and was able to reseize Xiangkhoung. The victory resulted in King Rama V resettling a large number of Phuan in Siam in what is considered to be the most important resettlement. One main reason for the Phuan resettlements in Siam over the entire period documented above was the attempt to occupy land owing to the problems and disputed issues arising from French Colonialism. This is evidenced by King Rama V’s setting-up of Monthon (or Mandala State of) Lao Phuan in 1893, which had an administrative form characteristic of a county in the United Kingdom. The Monthon was set-up to bring together the territories of Xiangkhoung and Khammouan (two cities in Laos PDR today), Udon Thani, Sakhon Nakhon, and Muk Dahan under official Siamese control. Although in the end France was able to take full possession of the Lan Xan Kingdom (including Xiangkhoung), Phuan resettlements in Siam, or in Thailand thereafter, are considered in part owing to the success of the possession of the population itself. Data from 1995 [2] shows that Thailand’s Phuan population totalled 190, 430 people scattered throughout the country in various provinces including Nan, Phrae, Sukothai, Phi Chit, Lop Buri, Nakhon Sawan, Sing Buri, Supan Buri, Sara Buri, Petchaburi, Udon Thani, Nakonnayok and Ubon Ratchathani.
From what I can gather there should be Phuan Boon Kam Fa festivals in Phrae, Si Satchanalai, Saraburi, Udon Thani.

The Festival & its History

Origins of the Boon Kam Fa festival in Thailand The Boon Kam Fa Festival of the Phuan in Thailand is treated as one of traditions of the ‘Head Sib Song Kong Sib See’ that must be practiced in the third month of Thailand’s version of the lunar Buddhist calendar (February in the Gregorian calendar). The words Kam Fa are of the Tai-Phuan language. Kam means belief or observe/hold, and is similar to the word Khalam, meaning taboo: it is taboo to work during the Boon Kam Fa Festival. Fa means Than-God, or deity, who is able to bestow benefits or punish. Fa also refers to the ancestral spirits of whom their descendants believe God created as the first Phuan people. The principle beliefs related to the Phuan’s Boon Kam Fa Festival are as follows. Beliefs about Gods and Spirits: The Phuan believe that they must worship the gods that look after their rice fields and their cities. They must also worship their ancestral spirits so that they and their families are protected and are able to live comfortably. Thus the gods, ancestral spirits, and Mae Pho Sop (the Goddess of Rice) must all be worshipped, with homage also being paid to the Goddess of Rice during Boon Kam Fa. Beliefs about the period when ‘Frogs are without mouths and Nagas without orifices: The Phuan believe that the period when Boon Kam Fa is practiced, frogs are without mouths; this is taken to mean that they do not eat because they are full. Nagas are without orifices, meaning that they do not eat and thus do not excrete. All of this is taken to mean that it is a most prosperous period of time and thus considered a favourable time for the Phuan to practice the Boon Kam Fa tradition. Beliefs about the first sounds of thunder: The Phuan place importance on the first sounds of thunder in order to predict their future living and work conditions; they are also able to predict daily rainfall volume for agricultural purposes for the entire year ahead. The common rituals currently practiced by the Phuan during Boon Kam Fa do vary in different regions. Most regions devote three days to Boon Kam Fa as follows.

3.1 The first day The first day is fixed for the second waxing evening of the third month of the lunar calendar. When the sun has set, the Phuan must start festivities by stopping work until the sun has set on the third waxing evening of the third month every year. They are then able to recommence working. On the first day, the ThanGod, ancestors, and Mae Pho Sop, the Goddess of Rice, are worshipped, with homage also being paid to the Goddess of Rice.

3.2 The second day Mainly on the ninth waxing evening of the third lunar month, the Phuan stop work until the morning of the tenth waxing evening every year. In the hour before midday, the Phuan dress beautifully and carry ‘Pha Khaow’ or ‘Sa Hae’, which are trays used to carry food that is offered to the monks at the temple. In the evening, games are played such as mai-heum, long-kuang, chuang-rum, morn-sorn-pa, or da-mark-bia, which is also known as Saba (a pitch-and-toss game played with St. Thomas beans).

3.3 The third day The third day is fixed for the fourteenth waxing evening of the third lunar month. Once the sun has set, the Phuan stop work until the morning of the fifteenth waxing evening every year. In the morning, the Phuan offer food to the monks at the temple as is done on the second day. It is on this day that the Phuan wait to hear the first sounds of thunder in order to predict their future livelihoods.
Lets hope someone can check it out on GTR.

On GTR the old Phuan capital in Laos
Muang Khoun - Xieng Khouang - The Ancient Royal Capital
maybe someone will be in Muang Khoun