Yasothon (Thai ยโสธร) is a town in the Isan region of Thailand. It is the capital and administrative center of Yasothon province, and had a population of 21,134 in 2005. It lies a little more than 500 km northeast of the Thai capital Bangkok.
Yasothon Lord Bodintaradecha (Th: เจ้าพระยาบดินทรเดชา), also known as Singh from his family name (Th:สิงห์ ต้นสกุลสิงหเสนี), an accountant general (Th: สมุห์บัญชี) and army general (Th: แม่ทัพใหญ่) during the reign of Rama III (1824-1851), led an army from Bangkok to put down the rebellion of Lord Anouvong of Vientiane [Th: ปราบกบฎ (ปราบ กะบด) เจ้าอนุวงศ์ เวียงจันทน์] (1826-1828). General Singh then brought his army to Yasothon to rest. The campsite is marked by a nine-spired chedi at Wat Tung Sawang Chayaphum (Th: วัดทุ่สว่างชัยภูมิ | Bright field of victory). Yasothon also aided Bangkok in repelling Chinese invaders at Nong Khai during the Haw wars (Th: ปราบกบฏฮ่อ) (1865-1890).
In the reign of Rama V (1868-1910), before the establishment of Monthon (Th: มณฑล), Yasothon was included in the northwestern quarter of Western Laos (Th: หัวเมืองลาวฝ่ายตะวันตกเฉียงเหนือ). Yasothon was a Monthon from A.D. 1900/2443 B.E. until A.D. 1913/2456 B.E. when it was made an Amphoe and joined to Boriwen Ubon (Th: บริเวณอุบล ฯ) to form Ubon Ratchathani Province. In A.D. 1972/2515 B.E., the Amphoe was elevated to Yasothon Province.
The city has a significant Thai Chinese influence. The city pillar, erected in AD 1987/2530 BE a short walk from Wat Singh Tha, is housed in a shrine (ศาลเจ้าพ่อหลักเมือง) that resembles a Chinese temple. A Chinese warrior impersonates the city spirit in the annual parade celebrating the Chinese lunar date of the shrine's dedication.
Yasothon's rocket festival (ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ Prapheni Bun Bang Fai |Tradition of Boon of Bong of Fire) is held annually over the weekend that falls in the middle of the month of May. The festival's origins lie in a custom of firing rockets into the sky at the start of the rice-growing season to remind King of the Sky, Phaya Thaen, to send promised rain. The festival is a competition marked by a weekend of celebration, including highly-decorated floats parading through the town, accompanied by partying, dancing, music, and a fair. Friday the main thoroughfare is transformed into a parade ground lined on both sides by concert stages, which will feature Mor lam performers throughout the night. Saturday sponsored parade groups compete for prizes. Many of the traditional dances and floats have to do with the legend of Nāng Ai and Phādāēng, but others have to do with that year's particular theme.
Sunday the action moves from the city center to Phaya Thaen Park at its eastern edge. The park is not only a beautiful playground with an athletic stadium and outdoor stage, it is also part of the city's flood-control project for those times when Phaya Thaen sends too much rain.
The festival now takes the form of a competition to see whose rocket will stay aloft for the longest time.
On May 10, 1999, the Yasothon Rocket Festival made world headlines when a 120 kg rocket exploded 50 meters above ground, just two seconds after launch, killing five persons and wounding 11.
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