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Thailand Tradition: The Lopburi Monkey Festival

Fact: Thailand hosts an annual feast for the local monkeys

The people of Thailand have offered respect to the local monkeys, the macaques, for over 2,000 years. This can be traced back to the epic tale of Rama in Thailand’s national epic, the Ramakien. In this tale, Hanuman, God-king of the monkeys, helps divine prince Rama rescue his wife from the demon lord. Because of this, Hanuman is still worshiped in Thailand and India to this day. In 1989, this inspired hotelier Yongyuth Kitwattananusont to launch a festival in honor of these monkeys which continues to this day.

In the weeks leading to the festival, locals offer invitations to the monkeys with cashews attached as an incentive to come. The Monkey Buffet Festival, taking place in the ruins of the Phra Prang Sam Yot Temple, begins with dancers performing in monkey costumes; years of conditioning have taught the macaques that this signals the beginning of the feast. The thousands of monkeys drawn from the nearby jungle climb and eat off of decorative fruit pyramids. They are also offered treats such as sticky rice, Thai pastries, and cans of soda. These offerings are believed by locals to bring prosperity and good luck to the region.


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