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Joining Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand

November 16, 2013 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

One of the most fascinating water-based cultural events in Thailand, Loy Krathong takes place on the full-moon night of the twelfth lunar month, or in November. It is a well-known festival among foreigners, as well.
The festival lasts a few days in some places, but the highlight of the celebration is on the full-moon night, which this year falls on 17 November.

People celebrate this festival by gathering on the banks of rivers and canals to float lotus blossom shaped vessels of various sizes called krathong. They light candles and incense sticks, making a wish, and carefully place the krathong in a river, canal, stream, or pond.

Loy Krathong is a form of thanksgiving by the people to the waterways on which they depend. The festival is also meant to seek pardon from the Goddess of Water for their sins in polluting the water. For the rural folk, this festival is believed to carry away the sins and misfortunes of the past year.

The actual birth of the Loy Krathong Festival remains a mystery, although it is thought this age-old tradition was influenced by a Brahmin ceremony in India. According to written accounts of Thai history, Loy Krathong came into being during the Sukhothai period in the late 13th century. There is evidenced that in the days when Sukhothai was the capital of the Thai Kingdom, Loy Krathong was a state ceremony, a way of paying homage to sacred beings.

Then, the tradition was modified when Nang Nopphamat, a royal consort in the Sukhothai royal court, thought up the idea of making the krathong into the shape of a lotus flower as well as other shapes, and using it to float downstream. Since then, the floating of krathong has become a distinctive way of paying homage to the Buddha, and the practice was called “Loy Krathong Prathip, or the “Floating of Candlelit Krathong.”

Today, Sukhothai province in the North is one of the focal points of the Loy Krathong celebration, with many cultural performances and decorated scenes. The province is holding the festival from 13 to 17 November at the Sukhothai Historical Park in Mueang district.

The northern province of Chiang Mai also celebrates the Loy Krathong Festival on a grand scale. This year, it is scheduled to hold various activities from 16 to 18 November. Other interesting places to celebrate this festival include Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Tak, Samut Songkhram, Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi, and Lop Buri.

The Loy Krathong Festival reflects the intimate relations between Thai people and waterways on which they depend for their livelihood. It is a sheer delight to observe flickering candle lights in a river or canal on the full-moon night of the twelfth lunar month.

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