Naga fireballs in Pakngum

Published on October 10, 2014

Thousands of people will flock to Pakngum district end of Buddisht lent day, hoping to witness Mystery of the Naga fireballs

Introduction: Thousands of people will flock to Pakngum district tonight, hoping to witness the strange phenomenon of the Naga fireballs, where orbs of flaming light rise mysteriously from the muddy waters of the Mekong. Our news team prepared the following story.

Story: Known in Lao as Bang Fai Phaya Nak, the appearance of the Naga fireballs coincides with the end of Buddhist Lent, on the full moon of the 11th month of the Buddhist calendar.

The reddish pink balls of light are known to rise from the Mekong along a 100 kilometre stretch of the river from both sides Laos and Thailand, with recorded sightings dating back more than 100 years.

No one knows for sure what is behind this strange phenomenon, but legend has it that it is the breath of the Naga king, a serpent that resides in the Mekong, who has just awoken after three months of meditation during Lent.

Some say the fireballs are caused by combustible gases which rise from the Mekong at this time of year, when the moon is at its closest point to the Earth, which coincides with the end of Lent. A study by the Thai Ministry of Science pointed towards a gas called phosphine, which they say they have captured on film.

Many more believe it is most certainly the Naga, who chose to be a bodyguard of the Lord Buddha in his final life, hoping to learn more about the Buddhist way, and aren’t ready to let science interfere with their traditional beliefs.

Thousands of people gather on the banks of the Mekong to witness the revered fireballs every year, both in Pakngum district and also across the river in Thailand, with Phonphisai district in Nong Khai province providing another good vantage point.

In Pakngum district, the three most popular villages to congregate are Pakngum, Nonxai and Nongkhiet, where the fireballs normally appear in their greatest number between 7 and 9pm, though some years there are more than others.

Source: Lao National Television News in English
Broadcast on October 09, 2014