The annual Inthakhin Festival in 2018 started on Friday, May 11, and will last 7 days and seven nights. Inthakhin means Indra’s pillar and is actually the “Lak Muang” of Chiang Mai. During the festival the pillar of the God Indra is worshipped at the beginning of the rainy season by all the people of Chiang Mai.
Formerly, the pillar was erected by King Mangrai in 1296 when he built Chiang Mai at Wat Sadue Muang, also called Wat Inthakhin, located near the geographic center of old Chiang Mai. But five centuries after King Mangrai, under the direct Siamese administration, King Kavila moved the Inthakhin pillar southwards to Wat Chedi Luang. It was then renovated and a four-faced pavilion was built to enshrine it.
When entering into Wat Chedi Luang through the main entrance on Phra Pok Klao Road, one can see in the front of the wide compound the temporary pavilion for the Buddha image of Phra Fon Saen Ha, which was brought from Wat Chang Taem further south, then the entrance of the great viharn, and Chedi Luang behind. At the left side of the main entrance in the south are situated the Inthakhin pavilion, the big Ton Yang tree and one of the Kumphan’s shrine. At the right side of the entrance in the north is a temporary wooden platform for cultural shows at night and the other Kumphan’s shrine. Only the pavilion of the city pillar from the following elements is linked together with cotton cords called Dai Sai Sin:
- The pavilion of the city pillar is guarded by the Rajasi or Lion in the north, the Elephant in the east, the Tiger in the south, and the Hermit holding a rosary in the west. Female visitors are prohibited to enter the pavilion. In front of the pavilion is a long table, on which are 32 trays of offering are placed. In the center of the pavilion stands the Inthakhin, which is an octagonal brick structure inlaid with colored glass and superseded by a standing Buddha facing the east with his hands put across the chest. A classical music troupe is playing in front of the entrance at night.
- Two Kumphans, also called Giants, who carried the Inthakhin down to earth.
- The Ton Yang tree is the place, where the new great city was founded.
- The temporary pavilion in front of the great viharn for the Phra Fon Saen Ha or the Buddha image calling hundred thousand rainfalls to come.
- The Viharn Luang, which was only constructed in 1928, is supplied with a table on which 108 small alms-bowls were placed for people to make alms-giving by putting coins into them. Also, there are Buddha images in seven postures corresponding to the seven days of the week for people to worship one of the seven images according to their birthday
- The Chedi Luang which was undertaken by King Saen Muang Ma in 1401 and completed in 1481 by King Tilokaraja. The monument was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1545.
Most of all, the vacant space of the monastery compound is crowded with several stalls selling varieties of goods such as food and drinks, dresses, and shoes among others. Needless to say that the whole compound is very crowded all the whole week and traffic must be considered when visiting Wat Chedi Luang to ensure the city and its inhabitants of abundant rainfalls for rice cultivation and much fertility.
Written by : Reinhard Hohler