Sak Yant Tattoo Festival – Day One. It is a smagorsbord. One part carnival, one part tattoo marathon, one part madhouse, and a final part of a supercharged religious awakening. The Sak Yant Wai Kru Festival takes place every March at the Wat Bang Pra temple outside of Bangkok.
Each year 10,000 people descend on this small town about an hour west of the capital of Thailand. The event starts on a Friday evening. In a non-stop marathon, monks start creating these holy tattoos through the night into the next day. These Sak Yant tattoos date back over 2,000 years. Today, it is practiced in Thailand and Burma and to a lesser degree in Laos and Cambodia.
If you think you need professional assistance and awesome guidance, check out my friends at Where Sidewalks End. They are experts when it comes to Sak Yant and can even help you get a Sak Yant tattoo. If you book a trip through them, I will earn a commission.
These varied tattoos consist of geometrical, animal, and deity designs. Script is sometimes incorporated using Pali, a dead language that was used to write the Theravadan Buddhist scriptures. These tattoos offer the owner magical powers ranging from good fortune, charisma, and even being impervious to bullets.
This event named Wai Kru translates to paying homage to one’s teacher. This festival allows devotees to honor their masters (the individuals giving the tattoos). The attendees can get a new tattoo or have their existing tattoos “recharged”.
I arrived on a Friday evening after the sun had already set. The large complex of temples, buildings and open areas was quietly abuzz. A thick carpet of heat and humidity languished over the area. I slid past the carnival games and the food hawkers and arrived at an open veranda. Approximately sixty people, mostly men, gathered in four groups sitting on the tiled floor.
These groups were gathered around a master giving Sak Yant tattoos. A man would approach bearing an offering. A pack of cigarettes, some candles, and some 20 Baht bills. This offering can be purchased at the temple and then is presented to the monk in exchange for the tattoo. The monk quickly sizes up the person and can decide which tattoo is appropriate for the person. Imagine a doctor making a diagnosis, and prescribing a salve. An inked mold of the tattoo is neatly placed on your body, typically on your back. Two men sandwich you and stretch your skin. The monk grabs a long metal pole and dips it into a bowl of ink. He deftly pierces your skin in machine gun like fashion. Within minutes your holy tattoo is completed. The monk places his hands on you. He speaks a prayer. You feel the spirits course through your body and you feel possessed. Your Sak Yant tattoo is charged. You step aside, and the next man takes your place.
If you want to get a Sak Yant tattoo, check out my friends at Where Sidewalks End. They will set you up with an awesome experience. Sak Yant Tattoo Festival – Day One
Disclaimer: I will earn a fee if you book an experience with Where Sidewalks End