People gather to admire the Naga fireballs in Nong Khai Province.
Naga Fireballs. It takes place only in the evening, one day, once a year, and often at the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent in October, a time at which Buddha is said to descend to earth from heaven. It is usually seen in Phon Phisai District.
Naga, in the Thai language, is a mythical serpent-like creature, believed by locals to live in the Mekong or its estuaries. It protects its residents. People say that the mysterious balls are made by the Naga, in order to call the Buddha to return to Earth.
The glowing balls, reddish in colour and in various sizes, are alleged to naturally burst from the bottom of the river, sprint above the water surface, and then move skyward for a couple of hundred metres before disappearing.
“I have come to watch it every year, and am always excited to wait for it, as if it was the first time. I believe many people feel like me,” said Thanawit Parnchookaew, a Vietnamese-Thai living in the province.
“Nobody knows when the fireballs start. We just prepare food and drinks in the morning, drive to the place and wait until night. Sometimes it is early, at 6pm, but sometimes it is at midnight. It can come up with one ball, or six to seven balls at the same time. It is really an incredible scene that everyone should see once in their lifetime,” Thanawit said.
The number of fireballs varies from year to year, anywhere from 10 to 1,000.