Loy Krathong Festival
A yearly, traditional festival all over Thailand
The Loy Krathong is an important National Festival in Thailand and celebrated on the full moon of the 12th month in the lunar calendar (mostly in November).
"Loi" means to float; "Krathong" is a raft traditionally made from a banana tree trunk, decorated with folded banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. Many people add add a small piece of their body to the Krathong, such as hair or finger nail.
During the night of the full moon, many Thai people release a krathong on a river or on a pond. Collectives, e.g. offices or organizations build much bigger and more elaborate krathongs, and these are often judged in contests. In addition, fireworks and beauty contests take place during the festival.
Some sources say that the festival probably originated in India as a Hindu festival as thanksgiving to the deity of the Ganges with floating lanterns for giving life throughout the year. The originally Brahmanical festival was adapted by Buddhists in Thailand as a ceremony to honour the Buddha Siddhartha Guatama. Other sources say that it has something to do with the practice of the Thai kings of the Northern Kingdom of Sukhothai. Here the routes are seen in the former believes into water spirits and the floating away of all wrongdoings and uncontrollable calamities that befell people of the north and northeastern parts of Thailand.
The act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go off all grudges, angers and defilements. The added cut fingernails and hair are a symbol of letting go off the bad parts of themselves. Many Thai believe that floating a krathong will create good luck, and they do it to honor and thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha. The beauty contests that accompany the festival are known as "Noppamas Queen Contests". According to legend, Noppamas was a consort of the Sukothai king Loethai and she was the first to float decorated krathongs.
The Thai tradition of Loy Kratong is now celebrated throughout all Thailand. In Chiang Mai Loi Kratong is also known as "Yi Peng". Every year thousands of people assemble to float the banana-leaf krathong onto the waterways of the city. In addition a multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom fai) are also launched into the air where they resemble large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating by through the skies. These are believed to help rid the locals of troubles and are also taken to decorate houses and streets.
The 4 min. preview video reports about the preparation and the festival in Nong Khai, Northeast-Thailand, in November 2008. You can see this Video in HD mode and in full screen at Youtube ( http://youtu.be/xRJ1ZDvTMOg)
© 2009 mickspatz
Sources for information:
personal field work together with local Thai friends.
Text in extracts retrieved from from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loy_Krathong)
and from Thai Tourism Organizations, such as http://www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com/loy_krathong_festival.html