Naga's & Fireballs
At full moon every October, hundreds of thousands of Thai, tourists and travelers go to the Nongkhai Province by the Mekong River and watch for the Naga fire balls. Legend has it that the mysterious Naga lives in the river. It is Thailand ’s version of the Loch Ness phenomenon: a serpent, a dragon, a giant fish, the protector of Buddha, the under world king. A mystery, surely! Every year, the famous fireballs rise towards the sky out of the dark waters of the Mekong . The Thais throw a gigantic party as they wait to see the fireballs.
The Legend: Once Lord Buddha went to heaven to visit his mother, on his return the Naga welcomed him by sending fireballs into the sky.This event is repeated every full moon in October.
The Naga is not monster, he is the Nemesis of evil and the protector of Buddha and good people; as the Naga sculptures guarding almost every Isan temple demonstrate. There are many tales about the Naga. A series of paintings on the walls of the beautiful Wat Pochai, one of Nongkhai’s many temples, tells the story of the Golden Buddha and his Naga rescuer. The Thai kings’ men stole the statue, said to be made of solid gold, from Vientiane and Lao in ancient times. The elegant murals of many temples show the Buddha being taken across the river on a barge. A fierce storm catches the barge, and it capsizes, sinking the Buddha to the depths of the river. It is the Naga who finds the Buddha, and helped bring it to Nongkhai. Today many visit the famed statue, which sits peacefully in Wat Pochai where most of our volunteers will see it during their orientations sightseeing.
Is the Naga myth, or is it the Phra Beuk, the giant catfish (the world’s largest ad now almost extinct fresh water fish, growing to several meters and hundreds of kilos) that inhabits this part of the Mekong River? Nobody knows for sure. But they may show you a photograph of the American soldiers that once caught a mysterious serpent or fish in the Mekong: some 15 men were needed to hold the creature in the picture. Today, all these men are said to be dead! Nobody harms the Naga, the saying goes. One thing is certain, though! If you are in Thailand in October, don't miss the full moon Naga fireballs of the Mekong, the Bang Fai Prayana!