Locals wear ghost masks at spirit worship festival in Thailand

Thousands of locals take part in an annual 'ghost festival' in Loei, northern Thailand, today July 7, 2019.

The event, called Phi Ta Khon - which means Ghost Masked Dance - sees residents in the remote region wear colourful masks and costumes while performing traditional dance moves. It takes part at several temples in the Dan Sai district. The bizarre ritual celebrates the return of Prince Vessantara, the Lord Buddha's last previous life, to his city after exile.

The highlight of the event is when locals wear elaborate ghosts masks carved from coconut-tree trunks and topped with bamboo wicker and sticky-rice steamers.

The festival is said to have originated as a form of spirit worship with music and dancing being used as a way to appease the spirits that residents believe protect the local villages and ensure lots of rain during the coming season.