Thailand’s Monkey Buffet Festival

photo by Ryan Harvey

Thailand’s festivals are always fascinating, always worth attending, and most of the time really fun. But they can seem a bit weird too, although that never negates the fun part. One of the strangest Thai festivals that was ever celebrated in the famous Monkey Buffet Festival held every year in the city of Lopburi in Lopburi Province, one of the country’s central provinces. Although the Monkey Buffet Festival doesn’t have any deep cultural or religious roots, it is a way to celebrate the local monkey population, and to attract more visitors to this beautiful province. If you like furry creatures in general and monkeys in particular, find out more about Thailand’s Monkey Buffet Festival.

Lopburi’s Monkeys

photo by Adam Baker on Flickr

Lopburi Province is famous for its large population of monkeys, who have strayed away from their wild roots and have become adapted to city life. The monkeys of Lopburi are everywhere, and they are a permanent fixture of the landscape. They are Crab-Eating Macaques, and most of them live in the vicinity of Prang Sam Yot, a Khmer temple, and Sarn Phra Karn, a Khmer Shrine. One might think that crab-eating macaques wouldn’t find much to eat in the temple, but fortunately this monkey species is omnivorous, and will eat whatever they get from the temple visitors.

Monkey Buffet Festival

photo by Adam Baker on Flickr

The people of Lopburi have grown so attached to their monkeys that they organize a yearly festival in their honor. The festival is just what it says on the label: a huge buffet for monkeys to enjoy. For the duration of the festival, the monkeys are pampered with bits of fresh fruit and vegetable, even more than on regular days. People from all over Thailand, as well as foreign visitors, come to feed the monkeys during the festival, and to enjoy the festivities. Literally thousands of kilograms of food are donated to the monkey population, in hopes that this generosity will bring good luck to people.

Activities

The first thing you get upon entering the temple area during the festival is a stick – to keep the monkeys at a distance if they become too insistent in their begging (however, the sticks are strictly not to be used to harm the animals!). The main event is the buffet – a huge feast of fresh fruit and vegetables are spread out for the guests and the monkeys to enjoy. Traditional song and dance, as well as prayers for the good fortune of both local humans and primates are also part of the programme. Keep your camera at hand to take pictures of the inevitable monkey business.

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