Loy Krathong

2 Dec

Celebrating holidays in Thailand is quite an adventure; with the western holidays, it is interesting to see if and how the Thais chose to celebrate them, and what the farang (foreigners) do to mark the holiday. With the Thai holdiays, each one is something fun and new to discover. This past Wednesday was a Thai holiday called Loy Krathong. It is celebrated every year on the first full moon of the 12th lunar month to mark the end of the rainy season. Thais thank the river goddess for all the water, and apologize for the polluting things humans have done with the water (bathing, cooking, etc.). Loy or loi means ‘to float’ while krathong means ‘raft’. Everyone makes little lotus-shaped rafts out of banana leaves, styrofoam, or stale bread (they are trying to discourage using styrofoam – banana leaves are traditional). They decorate the krathong with orchids, incense, candles (always in odd numbers) and sometimes a coin. Then the krathong is floated in the nearest body of water. The idea is to let go of bad thoughts like anger and hatred (some people put hair or fingernail clippings to symbolize this in their krathong) and then say thank you to the water goddess, and make a wish for the coming year. The longer the candle on your krathong stays lit once afloat, the better your luck for the coming year. All of the waterways in Thailand become crowded with floating krathong, and all the lights and candles are beautitful! There are also fireworks, and some places hold beauty pageants (or as my student put it “Ladies dress up to see who is the prettiest”).

Loy Krathong falls at the same time as a northern Thai holiday called Yi Peng. Up in Chiang Mai and the north, the holiday is huge, but people did parts of the celebration here in Bangkok too. On Yi Peng, people light huge lanterns called khom loy (floating lantern) and let them loose. The lanterns have candles in the bottom, and the hot air makes them float up, so the sky is filled with floating lanterns and people make wishes on them. One year, I want to go to Chiang Mai to see this in action!

For Loy Krathong, we went with friends of ours to a nearby neighborhood (mooban) called Sammakorn, which has a nice lake in the middle. We had dinner near the lake, lit a few khom loy, and watched everyone set their krathongs afloat. My pictures do not do it justice, but I did the best I could!

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2 Responses to “Loy Krathong”

  1. Heidi December 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Your commentary on Orestes’ expressions suggests that you haven’t seen pictures of him for the last 7 years…

  2. Elaine McCormick December 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Lovely, I hope they have something exciting like this going on when we visit in February! Keep the blogs coming; I love it.

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