The Chinese people of Samrong in Samut Prakan Province believe that their God Jao Por Tap will help them get rich. Behind Imperial World, on the old Paknam Railway Road, they have built a large Chinese shrine dedicated to this God. Every year, on the last Sunday of January, they hold a parade through town which is attended by literally thousands of local people.
It was still dark when people started turning up at the Jao Por Tap Shrine. We arrived there shortly after 7 a.m. and both the road outside and the grounds of the shrine were crowded to capacity. This was the first time I had attended this parade and so didn’t really know what to expect. There was so much going on in different directions that I didn’t know where to focus my attention. The Governor of Samut Prakan was there as well as local politicians. In fact, anyone who was anybody had turned up for this event.
The opening ceremony involved the usual speeches and these came to an end with firecrackers and crashes of cymbals and banging of drums. This signalled the start of the parade. I think it would be fair to say that this was the largest Chinese parade that I have ever seen. As well as marching bands there were also the dancing dragons and acrobats. There was even this guy that had skewers through his cheeks.
The parade left the shrine shortly after 8 a.m. and made its way up the Old Railway Road and then turned right next to Samrong Hospital and headed towards Imperial World and then out onto Sukhumwit Road. Along the way, shopkeepers had set up small shrines on tables. The dancing dragons and acrobats did a small performance in front of these shrines and they were then given some money.
There must have been over 1,000 people in the parade but there were also thousands of people lining the parade route through town. It was a big event on the calendar for Samrong. From where I stood taking pictures and shooting video, it took them about 45 minutes to pass by me. Then as quickly as it started it was all over. Though, of course not for them. They still had a long way to go.
You can see many more of our pictures and also a video over at www.paknam.com and www.paknamphotos.com.