Drawing on my research on the Buddhist Salak Yom festival in Lamphun Province between 2009 and 2016, I will show how the official designation of this merit-making ritual as first provincial, then national, and now international heritage has led to starkly divergent opinions among community and state actors about how the Salak Yom should be safeguarded. While some local actors and communities have benefitted from the commercialisation and promotion led by state heritage and tourism authorities, many more senior local community members favor instead a return to a simpler, more authentic expression of the festival centered on merit-making rather than visual spectacle. This paper presents these manifold perspectives and considers how these different actors might have a voice in shaping the evolving meaning and practice of this ritual.
Dr. Alexandra Denes, Lecturer, Media Arts and Design, Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University
- Cornell University's Southeast Asia Program