Meditation and yoga teacher Marisa, just returned from a trip to see the famous Naga fireballs that rise form the Mekong river at this time of the year.
Naturally, the Thais have a supernatural explanation about the Naga of the river creating this strange occurence.
While it is easy to dismiss this particular event, in fact Nagas do play a genuine part in Buddhism. According to the cosmology (and you don’t have to believe it ….) there are heaven and hell realms, as well as strange inbetween creatures … one of these is the Naga, a fiery dragon that lives either in the sky or underground.
Mythologists have pointed out that the naga/dragon appears in practically every ancient mythology, across continents and eons. It must be based on something experienced by these different cultures … One theory is that asteroids, or even Venus, has appeared in our sky with a long flowing electric discharge tail. It would appear as a bright sphere, with a fiery tail snaking behind it. Certainly this would explain the ubiquitous dragon.
Marisa has written a longer, and more detailed account of the Thai version of the Naga, from her recent research trip.
I just spent a week in Nongkhai to celebrate the holiday of Ook Phansa and view the famous Naga fireballs that appear each year mysteriously out of the Mekong River. Ook Phansa is celebrated on the full moon in the 10th lunar month of the last day of the Buddhist rainy season period and the day that the Buddha came back to earth from his trip to heaven where he visited his deceased mother. It is also the time of year when pleasant cool weather replaces the rain and the rice becomes ripe for November harvests. A Buddhist nun replied to my question about the connection between the rain and great Naga in a sweet riddle, “Where does the water on the earth come from? The rain. Where does the rain come from? The earth.”
You can see the full post on her blog here.