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The Monkeys of Good Fortune

In the small province of Lopburi, in the central area of Thailand, just south of the capital Bangkok, a festival would be in full swing during the last Sunday in November. Although the name might be misleading, the Monkey Buffet Festival in Lopburi, Thailand celebrates the thousands of monkeys that are thought to bring good fortune to the people of this jungle-like landscape. As the guests of honor, the monkeys are then given a full course meal that includes an arrangement of fruits and vegetables to celebrate the holiday.

The festival kicks off with performances by dancers who wear monkey costumes. Then, once the monkeys arrive, they are treated to a full course meal that consists of vibrant fruits and vegetables. Pineapple, Lettuce, Watermelon, and Durian are all delicacies that join the festivities as they are stacked on pyramids. All of the food combined comes out to about two tons of fruits and vegetables. The monkeys then jump from table to table and climb each pyramid, poking around at what piques their interest. 

The real question is how did monkeys become so important in Thailand?  The answer traces back to a local fable told for thousands of generations. The story follows a divine prince by the name of Rama who is in a fierce conflict to save his wife, Sita, from a demon lord. Legend has it that the monkey king Hanuman and his army helped save Sita. From there, monkeys have long been considered in Thailand a sign of good luck and prosperity. The Lopburi people show their appreciation to them by providing this annual feast for the monkeys of the jungle. 

So, why is this important? What does this show? It shows how people’s beliefs are upheld from generation to generation. Every year, this celebration not only signifies the Lopburi people’s goodwill toward monkeys, but it shows how a small fable has threaded unity and cohesion through a community. 


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