Donation trees after dark at Wat Hariphunchai during Salak Yom Lamphun Tours
Wat Hariphunchai during Salak Yom

Salak Yom Festival Lamphun

The tradition of Salak Yom

“Salak Yom” is an ancient merit making ceremony originally for women of the Tai Yong minority. The Tai Yong originally come from Myanmar and migrated to Lamphun. In the early 1800s, King Kawila of the Lanna kingdom forcibly resettled thousands of ethnic Yong, Karen, Shan, and Khuen people from the present-day Shan state of Myanmar. The Tai Yong come from a place called Muang Yong.  Some 90% of the people living in Lamphun are descendants of the Tai Yong. The Tai Yong speak their own dialect and have stuck to their traditions. The Salak Yom festival is one of these traditions. This ceremony takes place each year in Wat Prathat Haripunchai, in Lamphun, and, on different dates at certain temples in the vicinity of Lamphun.

Karen girls Salak Yom Festival
Karen girls before the parade at the Salak Yom Festival. Picture by Frans Betgem.
Salak Yom Tour

Salak Yom

A Salak Yom is a tall bamboo construction (see the pictures) decorated with colorful paper. This construction contains house utensils, cloth, food, fruit, vegetables and the eight necessities of a Buddhist monk. In the past a Salak Yom also contained silverware, gold or diamond. Not anymore. After the first Salak Yom Ceremony at Wat Prathat Haripunchai smaller ceremonies will take place at a number of local temples around Lamphun. On the second day of the ceremony the Salak Yoms will be brought to the temple in a procession. The next day the Salak Yoms will be donated to monks. Salak Yom is a unique and very colorful ceremony, not to be missed if one is fortunate enough in the region.

Wat Hariphunchai

The sight of Wat Hariphunchai with the towering colorful donation trees dominating the temple compound is a sight to behold. The parade on the second day is really worth watching. It arrives at the temple around sunset. Before and after the parade there are cultural performances by different music and dance groups. The participants of the parade carry smaller donation trees to the temple. It is really worth visiting Wat Hariphunchai during these days, even when there is no parade.