An elegant woman who speaks perfect English invites me to sit with
them. Certainly my appearance doesn't merit the invitation: a long cotton
skirt, t-shirt and waist-pack bulging with lenses and film. Maybe she
asks because I am the only foreign visitor, I have grey hair, it is
too hot to stand up, or because Thai hospitality is unstinting. The
matrons smile as a breeze begins to blow; we are grateful for the relief.
Performers wearing purple and yellow silk costumes sing about Ya Mo,
a woman who was later titled Thao Suranari, Brave Woman. “Our
grandmother saved us from suffering as slaves. The victory of Ya Mo
will be remembered in our hearts…She was not afraid of men…
On her anniversary, we respect her, we salute her.”
They kneel in the street to face the statue of Ya
Mo, which is banked with lotus buds, offerings, and incense.
Impervious to the smattering of raindrops, the dancers sway their
arms above their heads, then create butterflies with their graceful