Lighting up history: Ubon Ratchathani’s grand candle sculpture shines

Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

A grand candle sculpture in Ubon Ratchathani is set to be showcased this year, featuring the tallest, widest, and longest candle ever made, costing 1.2 million baht. The intricately carved candle tells the story of Buddhist history.

With the Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani fast approaching, many temples are facing a shortage of new artisans, leaving older craftsmen to work on both the structural and carving tasks. The head craftsman for this year’s large carved candle at Wat Phasukaram, Suphanat Janchob, explained that the design continues to narrate Buddhist history.

The front of the candle features a depiction of the Naga sheltering the Buddha and Rahu swallowing the moon. Moving along, it portrays Queen Sirimahamaya dreaming of an elephant, followed by symbols commemorating King Vajiralongkorn’s 72nd birthday. The rear showcases the Buddha attaining enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.

This year’s candle is more massive than previous years, standing at 5.7 metres tall, 3.5 metres wide, and extending a total length of 18 metres, which is 2 metres longer than last year’s candle. This makes it the largest candle ever crafted, with a budget of nearly 1.2 million baht allocated for its creation. Currently, over 70% of the work has been completed.

The ongoing challenge is the lack of new artisans, a common issue across many temple communities. The existing craftsmen, whose physical strength is waning, have to switch roles frequently to keep the project on track. Those who can both frame and carve are assisting with the carving to ensure the work progresses swiftly and meets the deadlines for the display and parade on July 20 to 21, said Suphanat.

“We are working against time, and the older craftsmen are giving their best despite the physical strain. The absence of younger artisans is a significant challenge, but everyone is committed to finishing the candle on time.”

The Candle Festival, known for its elaborate and artistic candle displays, is a major event in Ubon Ratchathani, drawing visitors from all over Thailand and beyond. This year’s grand candle is anticipated to be a highlight, showcasing not only the artistic talent but also the dedication and resilience of the craftsmen involved, reported KhaoSod.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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