A recent report of people killed and injured by fireworks in northern Thailand reminded me to dig out some of the images I have of local fireworks in the northern Thai village of Baan Tiam. For some time (I am not sure how long) firework competitions have become a feature of loi krathong celebrations in Baan Tiam (and, I have no doubt) in many other northern villages. The fireworks I have seen in Baan Tiam are not the huge rockets that often feature in northern Thailand, Isan and Laos. They are short cylindrical fireworks made from a bamboo tube packed with gun-powder, magnesium, iron filings and god knows what else. Here is Baan Tiam’s local firework master mixing his recipe.

Once the fireworks have been carefully (?) packed they are then fixed firmly into a hole dug into the ground.

When the time is right and the crowds, and judges, have assembled they are ignited. Here is a short clip of the end result.

The clip does not really do the event justice. These are enormously powerful pyrotechnic displays – the roar and vibration as they ignite is stunning. And the shower of white hot iron filings is all part of the pleasure.

Of course, in these displays of masculine bravado there have to be winners and losers. I had the honour of presenting the prize to the winner (the envelope contains the cash prize but I can’t remember what else I was handing him!). He was an outsider, and the village firework master was, to say the least, very annoyed.