Definitely on most top 10 lists of strangest festivals in the world, the Monkey Buffet Festival in Lopburi, Thailand celebrates the city’s most relentless and warmly looked upon pests. Lopburi’s population of macaque monkeys are well known for their fearsome appetites, stealing snacks from anyone who may leave some morsels unattended. The city residents decided the best way to deal with their pesky monkey population was to embrace them, and so began the yearly Monkey Buffet Festival. During this festival, monkeys are invited to the Pra Prang Sam Yot temple to enjoy their favorite foods like bananas, peanuts and much more. With over 2,000 kg of fruits and vegetables used for the feast, it is surely the highlight of these monkeys’ year. Some of the treats are even encased in blocks of ice to give the monkeys some entertainment before their treat.
Legend has it that the hero of the ancient Sanskrit epic, Ramayana, rewarded his ally Hanuman the Monkey King with the control of what is now Lopburi and to this day the monkeys still rule the area around the two most sacred sites in the town. Upon the commencement of the Monkey Buffer, the amazing spread is unveiled revealing all kinds of enticing goodies. As they realize what is at hand more and more monkeys start scampering down from the ruins and being ripping into the delicious fruits and vegetables. As the buffet winds down monkeys and humans both stroll through the temple grounds, often interacting with each other.
Lopburi’s monkey population may be pesky but they also provide the city with a variety of benefits. From a spiritual standpoint, according to budhist beliefs donations of food to the monkeys are a great way to increase your good karma and judging by the looks of the hundreds of healthy monkeys running around the residents of the city have taken their many opportunities to “tum boon” (make merit). By embracing their monkey population the city has also turned itself into a popular tourist destination with people from all over the world visiting to see those zany monkeys. The Monkey Buffet Festival is held every year on the last Sunday of November.
Filed Under: Tourism
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