This festival is held in October every year. Surat Thani celebrates the official end of the annual 3-month Buddhist Rains retreat (Phansa) with the Chak Phra Festival (literally the procession of hauling the Buddha image). The tradition stems from the belief that the Buddha ascended to Heaven during Phansa to preach to his mother. The festival marks the Buddha's return to Earth, and is an occasion for religious merit-making and general celebrations. Local people organize dazzling land and waterborne processions of revered Buddha images (to symbolize the Buddha';s return to Earth) and boat races on the Tapi River where long boats, each manned by up to 50 oarsmen, are ebulliently raced. Religious devotion, spectacle and merriment combine to make Surat Thani's Chak Phra Festival a memorable annual event.