Yesterday the 23 of November, Thai people have celebrated the beautiful Loy Krathong festival. Late evening after working hours, all the rivers, klongs, lakes, ponds are crowded with people who drop the kratong to celebrate the water goddess, and gods but also to apologize for polluting them. Many believe that this is the symbolic moment to “float” all anger and grudges, and putting a nail or a lock of hair (some put money) in it is considered as a way to get rid of its dark side and take a new start only with good feelings. Make a wish but don’t take your Kratong out of your sight until you can’t see it anymore and if the candle is still lit it means a year of luck. Romanticism is also invited to Loy Krathong where lovers or those in search of a loved one make a wish before dropping the kratong.
When is it?
Each year, the date of the festival is different, it is held on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, which is in November, but also usually the end of the rainy season, a reason for celebration.
Formerly, in the past, it was a Brahman ceremony called Chong Pa Rieng (floating lantern of royal ceremony) to worship the gods Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. By adopting Buddhism, Thais adapted this ceremony to honor the cremated bones of the Buddhas. They floated a lantern to worship the Buddha’s imprint on the beach of the Nammathanati river in India.
It is believed that Loy Krathong, or ‘the festival of light,’ originated in the ancient city of Sukhothai, and everything would have started with a lady of the court in Sukhothai who was the favorite concubine of the king (14th century) and would have created the floating kratong in the shape of a lotus. The king made it float along the river and decreed that before the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, the kings of Siam must make a lantern floating in the shape of a lotus, to adore the Buddha’s footprint on the Nammathanati river beach forever.
However today it is recognized that the tale comes from a poem written at the beginning of the Bangkok period. King Rama IV (1830 has written that Thai Buddhists have adapted a Brahamic festival to honor Prince Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha). Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle), the kratong symbol of the release of all hatred, anger, and defilement.
Some Concerns in Bangkok and Chiang Mai
“Loy” means “floats”, and “Krathong” means the floating sculpture that is traditionally made from a banana tree trunk. It is then decorated with folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense sticks. Not long ago this structure was not much used because it requires a lot of time and instead Styrofoam was used. But today, after the ecological disaster that occurred every year, the authorities have finally banned it and the traditional method is being used again and has contributed to some creativity, and so much the better. that evening I saw some using watermelon (tang mo) ice-cream cones, and bread, colorful, different shapes and size.
In 2016, the day after Loy Krathong, six tons of waste were collected from the city’s waterways, 661,935 kratong, of which 617,901 were made of decomposable natural materials and 44,034 were made of non-biodegradable polystyrene. The city authorities had to mobilize 210 workers and 45 boats to clean everything up. lately, in July, the government launched countrywide a campaign at fresh markets to reduce the use of foam containers and plastic bags.
Chiang Mai, where the festival lasts three days, from 21 to 23, and another no less serious concern that the popular celestial lanterns pose to air traffic safety. They can be dangerous but they are a great tourist attraction and this year, the authorities did not hesitate and decided to modify the schedules or cancel flights from Wednesday to Friday, specifying that it will affect almost 150 flights, national and international, nothing less!
Loy Kratong for Ever
Some make their own kratong, but most of them buy one according to their taste. Of all the festivals I have attended, Sukhothai is the one I remember and if you have the opportunity to attend, don’t miss it. Like the other famous water festival, Songkran, Loy Krathong also has beauty contests that are known as Queen Nopphamat, which was the name of the favorite of the King of Sukhothai. A tradition rich in history that by its beauty, a little of religious belief and superstition has retained and will continue to keep its appeal. You can already plan to come and celebrate in 2019 on Wednesday, November 13.