Mon­keys feast for a day in Lop­buri

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page -

IT is a feast fit for a monkey king. On Novem­ber 27 the cen­tral Thai town of Lop­buri put on a five-star ban­quet for its hun­dreds of macaque in­hab­i­tants, spark­ing a mass simian food fight. Lop­buri has been lay­ing on an an­nual feast – part merit-mak­ing tra­di­tion and part un­abashed tourist at­trac­tion – for its mon­keys since the late 1980s.

This year’s feast fea­tured a smor­gas­bord of fruit that was quickly de­mol­ished by the hun­gry guests who squawked and tus­sled as they gulped down their feast, much to the de­light of a horde of dis­tantly re­lated hu­man on­look­ers armed with cam­eras.

While Thai­land is an over­whelm­ingly Bud­dhist na­tion, it has long as­sim­i­lated Hindu tra­di­tions and lore from its pre-Bud­dhist era.

As a re­sult mon­keys are af­forded a spe­cial place in Thai hearts thanks to the heroic Hindu monkey god Hanu­man, who helped Rama res­cue his beloved wife Sita from the clutches of an evil de­mon king.

But the in­hab­i­tants of Lop­buri take their love for mon­keys to a whole new level. Towns­peo­ple give their fel­low pri­mates a place in the lo­cal so­ci­ety, and the mon­keys en­joy free reign around the town. Though ha­bit­u­ally de­struc­tive and reg­u­lar thieves, they are be­lieved to bring good for­tune and luck – though the most ob­vi­ous for­tune is baht, which comes in heaps for the an­nual food fight.

The fes­ti­val takes place on the ru­ins of Phra Prang Sam Yot, an 800-year-old Kh­mer-era Hindu tem­ple and one of the town’s most strik­ing land­marks. Be­gin­ning at 10am amongst the over­grown Kh­mer ru­ins that the monkey live in, fes­tiv­i­ties in­clude hu­man monkey dances, mu­si­cal per­for­mances and a speech by the gov­er­nor.

“It’s pretty awe­some to see so many wild mon­keys just roam­ing around the streets,” said Amanda, a tourist from the United States.

“They were eat­ing over there and lots of food to choose from and they were at­tack­ing each other and run­ning around and jump­ing on peo­ple,” she told AFP.

The reg­u­lar feed­ing has left Lop­buri’s monkey pop­u­la­tion no­to­ri­ously un­afraid of hu­mans.

“The mon­keys are crazy,” said Fang Xi, a 36-year-old sales man­ager from China.

“One of the mon­keys wants to steal my hair clip and doesn’t want to get off my shoul­der. Two other girls were afraid and ran away.” –

A macaque dives into the an­nual “monkey buf­fet” in Lop­buri prov­ince, north of Bangkok on Novem­ber 27. Mon­keys pig out, Thanks­giv­ing-style.

Pres­i­dent of Lop­buri Inn re­sort Yongyuth Kit­watananu­sont of­fers fruits and veg­eta­bles to the mon­keys of the hour. The gang takes a break from eat­ing on a mu­ral in Lop­buri.

Mon­keys in Lop­buri en­joy a ven­er­ated ex­is­tence, and live along­side the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion more-or-less peace­fully.

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