Monday, May 27, 2024

Loy Krathong Festival

What is Loy Krathong Festival?

Loy Krathong, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a major annual celebration in Thailand. This traditional festival honors the Water Goddess and Buddha. Thailand celebrates by releasing sky lanterns or Krathongs near water bodies, creating a romantic ambiance with candles, fireworks, and the full moon. People of all ages symbolically unite during this festival to momentarily escape their worries. That’s why Loy Krathong holds a significant place in Thailand’s festival calendar. Although it is celebrated nationwide the festival is not officially recognized as a public holiday. But this festival stands as a meaningful event that individuals should personally experience.

Where and When is Loy Krathong Festival celebrated?

Loy Krathong happens on the full moon night of the 12th month in the traditional Thai calendar. Therefore, it is celebrated on a different date every year. In the Western calendar, it usually falls in November. According to this year’s calendar (2023);

Bangkok

  • 24 November – 3 December Yodpiman Flower Market & Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem
  • 27 November – Rama VIII Bridge and Wat Arun

Sukhothai (Sukhothai Historical Park) – 18-27 November

Wat Phra That Doi Kongmu, Mae Hong Son – 23-27 November

Wat Chom Sawan – 25-27 November

Kad Sam Wai – 27 November

Nong Han Lake (Sakon Nakhon) – 27 November

Central Pattaya Beach – Jomtien Beach (most popular at Pattaya) = 27 November

Wat Khongkharam & Chaweng Lake, Ko Samui – 27 November

Ao Nang and Thara Park – 27 November

Wat Phummarin Kudi Thong & King Rama II Memorial Park Samut Songkhram – 28 November

Watsamruan – 26-27 November

Phu Khao Thong Reservoir – 27 November

How is Loy Krathong celebrated in Thailand?

People either make their Krathongs at home or purchase them. After that, evening falls, they gather near water bodies with decorated krathongs. While candles and incense sticks light up, they gently release krathongs into the water. This symbolizes dispelling misfortunes and honoring water spirits. Besides, a floating and lit krathong signifies good luck for the upcoming year.

On the other hand, visitors indulge in cultural displays, lantern parades, fireworks, and traditional Thai dances. Additionally, there is a beauty contest featuring traditional attire. Moreover you can savor delicious street food and traditional Thai cuisine during your visit.

What’s more, in certain Thai regions, a tradition involves releasing floating lanterns called “khom loi” into the sky. This symbolizes the release of worries and the search for a brighter future. While still possible, this practice isn’t as encouraged now due to potential house fires and generated waste.

Why is Loy Krathong celebrated?

The history behind the festival is complex, and Thais celebrate it for various reasons:

1- Following the main rice harvest, it’s a way to thank the Water Goddess for plentiful water and apologize for polluting the waters.

2- The candle honors Buddha, while releasing the Krathong symbolizes purification from hatred, anger, and impurities. Some add nails or hair as symbols of letting go of past sins and negative thoughts. This action ensures their mental well-being.

What’s the meaning of Loy Krathong?

This term is essentially translated as “floating a basket”.

Loy (ลอย)’ means “to float”.

Khratong (กระทง) refers to the “basket” placed onto the water’s surface.

History of the Loy Krathong festival?

The origins of Loy Krathong date back to Sukhothai in the 14th century. According to the Legend the king’s wife, Nang Noppamas, made the first lotus-like krathong from banana leaves and floated it with a candle to enchant it. Historians doubt Noppamas’ existence, yet Loy Krathong remains a romantic festival for many Thais. Beauty pageants honoring the festival’s story, including the selection of ‘Nang Noppamas,’ originate from this narrative.

Are there any other countries that have this tradition?

Loi Krathong in Thailand is celebrated as the “Tazaungdaing Festival” in Myanmar, the “Il Full Moon Poya” in Sri Lanka, and the “Lantern Festival” in China.

What is a Krathong? 

A krathong is a floating vessel commonly used in Thai festivals, usually dropped into water. Traditional krathongs are made from slices of banana tree trunk or banana leaves. Moreover krathongs contain flowers, a candle, incense sticks and offerings such as hair or coins.

Because the festival is popular, krathong has blocked the rivers and canals. Also Krathongs made from harmful materials have been criticized for causing pollution. Nevertheless, eco-friendly alternatives such as bread krathongs dissolve in water and serve as fish food. Families share single krathongs to cut waste, opt to celebrate at home, or use the Loy Krathong app. This change reflects a move toward eco-conscious practices during Loy Krathong, addressing environmental concerns.

Where is the best place to celebrate Loy Krathong Festival?

Bangkok

During Loy Krathong in Bangkok, the Chao Phraya River becomes a focal point for activities. A major event at Asiatique the Riverfront includes fireworks and family-friendly activities. Lumphini Park and Benjasiri Park offer quieter settings, favored by local families.

Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai stands as one of Thailand’s most popular spots for celebrating Loy Krathong. The Ping River hosts krathongs, while thousands of sky lanterns are released, creating a spectacular sight.

Sukhothai

It is considered the spiritual home of Loy Krathong. Sukhothai Historical Park’s celebrations feature stunningly illuminated temples and Buddha statues, offering an unforgettable light and sound show.

Phuket

In Phuket, travelers seeking a serene Loy Krathong experience find a tranquil setting. The festival here is quieter, and numerous hotels or resorts offer krathong-making classes.

Celebrations on Thailand’s beaches and islands

Coastal towns and Thai islands host special Loy Krathong events in hotels. It offers the chance to create your own krathong.

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