The Surin Province’s Elephant Round-up is one of the cultural festivals celebrated every year in Surin Province, Isan, Thailand. Normally the festival is held during the third week of November every year falling on the weekends. This year the Surin Elephant Round-up 2018 Event will be held on Saturday, November 17 to Sunday, November 18.
In Thailand, the Elephants are considered very prodigious animal and is even regarded as royal even the former flag of Thailand had a white elephant imprinted on as its main symbol. For the past 50 years, Surin is paying respect to this magnificent animal by hosting the Elephant Round-up festival every year.
The event takes place at the biggest elephant village of Asia as dubbed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand the “Si Narong Stadium”. There are many events that take place during the festival time to showcase the dexterity of this big animal. There are many interesting events to be seen like Big Elephant Breakfast, the parade, soccer games and tug of war along with the Thai Royal Army. These animals run wild in Thailand in the start but afterward had been captured and tamed by the experts at this work and also been trained to do amazing things along the way like they paint pictures, play polo and also whirl loops with their trunks.
The festival basically starts off from Friday. On Friday Morning, a large number of elephant approx. 300 starts their marching procession from the railway station at Surin City to the elephant roundabout on Prasat Road located in the far south of the city. Along with the marching parade, the students and teachers dressed traditionally dance and play music. Once the parade is over and all the elephants reach their destination the main banquet begins. The Elephants are offered food after their long run through the city on approx. 400 meters long banquet tables dressed with a traditional silk cloth. The food that is left after the elephants been fed full is taken home by the locals.
On Saturdays, just after the first ray of the light in the morning, all the team of the elephants and their trainers gather together at the Elephant Stadium. The ceremony begins with a speech from the chairman of the festival and then the parade through the stadium begins with all the baby elephants. Then the ritual parade of the bigger elephants takes place. Then the Kuy hunters begin showcasing their elephant capturing skills with their lassos and such.
Next to the elephant capturing performance, the main skills of the animal begin with the displays of acrobatics, matches of soccer and polo, and displays of other tasks, such as logging. Another one of the biggest tests of power event for the Surin’s Elephants is the elephant vs. army tug of war contest. At the beginning of the contest, there is only 50 army personnel against the biggest of them all elephant, when the elephant beats them an addition of 15 more soldiers is made until there are 100 of them competing against the big animal and even after this, usually the elephant is the one who always wins.
The final show of the day is the imitation of the historical clash of Siamese and Burmese Army. The army dress in the traditional clothing with symbolic colors for both teams like red for Siam and Blue for Burma. There is also a half-marathon held at the stadium called “Mueang Chang”. Everything is again repeated on the second day of the festival meaning Sundays.