The latest province of Thailand is called Bueng Kan. The culture and legends of the people around the Mekong River area is mostly related to the great Naga. The villagers here believe that deep down in the Mekong River, is the city of the great Naga with the capital located at the center of Mekong River. The deepest point of this river is in front of Arhongsilawas Temple in Bueng Kan province. The fireworks of the great Naga occur because of the belief that the great Naga wanted to celebrate the time when the Buddha returned from his trip to visit his mother at the end of Buddhist lent.
The Luangpisaijatiyarom Temple is also another important point to see the fireballs of the great Naga. There are many statues of the great Naga in this temple. There is also a statue of Por Pra Suk Monk. This is believed to be a copy as the real statue is said to be submerged under the Mekong River. According to the old legend, it is said that three daughters of the Lanchang king has built their own Buddha images according to their beliefs. They named their Buddha images Pra Serm, Pra Suk and Pra Sai and enshrined them at Vientiane. During the era of King Rama III, when the Thai army defeated Vientiane, they brought the three Buddha images back to Thailand. On their way back to the Thai border, the Pra Suk Buddha image fell into the water and could not be retrieved.
Ponepisai city is said to be the point where the fire balls of the great Naga was discovered since it is the gateway to the human world. The temples in this district are mostly decorated with the great Naga’s statue such as Wat Thai, Wat Jumpol, Wat Jom Nang and Wat Pochai. On Highway 212, travelers will see a sign saying, “The firework of great Naga viewing point” at the Baan Taa Muang, Amphur Rattanawaree. When the travelers arrive at Mekong River, they will see a big sign of the great Naga made by the Public Work Department just like in Amphur Ponepisai.
The last point for the fireballs of the great Naga is at Ahhongsilawat Temple. The Mekong River in front of this temple is believed to be the deepest point of all. There is also a cave at the Ahhong islet. This cave is connected to the Ngoo Mountain in Laos and the fireball in this area is a green color that is different from other places. There are many big rocks in the temple area; the rocks are similar to the rocks at Ahhong islet and those at Vern Tard Temple in Lao so it is assumed that all these rocks came from the same mountain. It is also said that there once used to be a big fireball here therefore the villagers believed that this area is the capital of the nether world. The temple area is another important tourist attraction where visitors can also come to see the sunrise and sunset.
The area around the Mekong River has many stories about the great Naga but the truth remains unknown. It is not important whether the great Naga is real or not, the important thing is the belief that gives Thai people faith in Buddhism.