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Loy Kratong

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Tourism Authority of Thailand
License Number: 11/2802

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As the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (usually in mid-November) lights up the night sky, throughout the Thai kingdom, hundreds of thousands of ornately-decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats are set adrift in rivers and waterways in a
Last Modified On: Tuesday, 17/July/2007 02:57:00am

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The Loi Krathong tradition we know of today has evolved from the royal rituals of the early Rattanakosin period in which several types of lanterns were set afloat in the Chao Phraya River and its waterways. The practice was subsequently adopted and adapted by common folk.

Krathong floats are made from basic materials easily found around the village and reflect the simplicity of life beyond the palace walls. They typically take the shape of lotus in full bloom, swans, chedis (stupas), and Mount Meru from Buddhist mythology. However krathong floats in the shape of lotus blossoms are most popular.

There are various accounts about the origins of Loi Krathong. However given the river-based culture that forms the foundation of the traditional Thai way of life, it is widely believed that these are offerings made to Mae Khongkha - Mother of Waters in an act of appeasement. Many also believe that by setting adrift the krathong, one symbolically casts away one's grief, misery and ill-fortunes. Coins are also placed in the krathong as offerings. For the romantic at heart and young couples, Loi Krathong is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love.

At dusk, as the full moon begins to rise, the krathong is decorated with fresh flowers and the candles and incense sticks are placed in the krathong. The float is then taken to a waterway where the candle and incense sticks are lit and the krathong set adrift. The floats are carried downstream by the gentle current, candlelight flickering in the wind.  The evening's festivities consist of impressive firework displays, folk entertainment, stage dramas, and song and dance. Scenes as described in ancient Thai literary accounts and still very much in existence today.

Loy Krathong is celebrated nationwide; Loy Kratong is particularly delightful in the provinces of Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Tak, Ayutthaya and Bangkok.

As the place of origin of the festival, Sukhothai rightly remains the focal point of the celebrations. The festival comes with a spectacular light-and-sound show held in the ancient and traditional setting of the Sukhothai historical park.

In Tak province, the banana-leaf floats are replaced by coconut shells which are threaded together and launched simultaneously so they appear as long chains of hundreds of glittering lights on the Ping River, hence the origin of its name, "Loi Krathong Sai".

Chiang Mai is another prime site to celebrate Loy Kratong. The festival is known in northern dialect as 'Yi Peng.'   The unusual ritual of launching Lanna-style floating lanterns (khome loi or khome yipeng) is a unique aspect of the Chiang Mai Loi Krathong festival. Traditional belief has it that when these huge lanterns are set adrift and float away, so do the troubles of the residents in the community.  Also traditional krathong, made exclusively from banana leaves, are set afloat on the Mae Ping River.  Final night of the celebration, procession of spectacular "Krathong Yai" or giant krathong floats will wing their way through the streets of the northern capital. The giant krathong feature elaborate decorations depicting the story of the life of the Lord Buddha, Thai literature, history and Thai art.  The colorfully lit floats form a long glittering parade as they make their way to the river.  Other activities of interest will also be organized ranging from Krathong contests, Lanna Thai cultural presentations and folk performances, bamboo raft races and boat races on the Mae Ping River and fireworks.

 The Chao Phraya River is one of the main waterways to celebrate the Loy Kratong festival. In Bangkok, riverside hotels organize special celebrations for their guests. In some hotels, swimming pools are turned into a temporary river for the Loy Kratong celebration.

 

21-27 November 2007.  Nationwide particularly delightful in the provinces of Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Tak, Ayutthaya and Bangkok.

 

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