WAT BANGPHRA, NAKHON PATHOM, MARCH 3
This is one of the more unusual festivals in Thailand. It is held by monks in early March at Wat Bang Phra, a Buddisht temple located 50 kms from Bangkok.The festival is especially popular with men who belive the tattoo hold magical properties and will therefore bring them prosperity and protection, and even special powers.
The aura surrounding yantra tattoos (a form of magical tattoo that is supposed to bring protection) is such that even Angelina Jolie sports one. The monks rely solely on a giant needle that is jabbed repetitively ioto the skin to creat masterpieces that include Buddhist texts, fearsome creatures, and scenes from the epic Ramayana, to name but a few.But if getting a tattoo is just too much for your blood pressure, instead you can always buy one of the amulets on sale at the temple.
Thousands of believers and curious spectators from all over Thailand will head to Wat Bang Phra this Saturday for the annual sak yant festival, one of the country's most bizarre events, to pay respect to the temple's master tattooist monks.
Sak yan is the Thai term for the special tattoos that many claim bring spiritual and physical protection. Many believe that the tattoos, given by Wat Bang Phra's famous monks, have mystical powers. Common designs include monkeys, tigers and ancient Khmer/Cambodian script.
At the festival, some men will go into trances and act out the characteristics of the sacred animals that have been carved onto their skin.To take in all the action, head to Wat Bang Phra in the Nakhon Chai Si district of Nakhon Pathom province, about 60km west of Bangkok. For a preview check out this gallery of photos taken at past tattoo festivals, including last year's.