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Loi Krathong Festival, Thailand

Loi Krathong and Other Light Festivals in Six Provinces: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Tak, Chiang Mai, Songkhla.

Some text, facts and images kindly supplied by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

Logo - Loi Krathong Festival, Thailand“Loi Krathong” is a ceremony traditionally performed on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, which usually falls on a day in November. The floating of a 'Krathong', a banana–leaf cup shaped vessel, is intended to float away any ill fortune as well as to express apologies to Khongkha or Ganga, the River Goddess. Some believe that the ritual is meant to worship the Buddha's footprint on the bank of the Narmada River, while others say that it is to pay respect to Phra Uppakhut, one of the Lord Buddha's great disciples.

The Loi Krathong Festival is celebrated nationwide in Thailand, especially where there are rivers, canals or stretches of water, with different unique characteristics.

We visited the Wat Kaeo Fa Chulamani, Kiak Kai, Bangkok
(Wat Bang Sue or Wat Kaeo Fa Bon) on the evening of the full moon, Saturday 24th November 2007 for the Thai festival of Loi Krathong and found the monastery and the surrounding area for about half a mile around had been turned into a night market related to the festival and scene of frenetic religious outpouring both spiritually and financially. Thousands of people from the surrounding area had come to pray, be blessed, pay homage and place their Krathong [banana-leaf boat with candles, incense and flowers] in the unusually calm Chao Phraya River. Hoping that as their Krathong floated away on the swell, so do their daily problems.

The sound of the monks beckoning the faithful to 'make merit' in any number of ways, from releasing eels, fish and terrapins back into the river to sponsoring tiles for the new roof on one of the monastery buildings.

Electric Float - Loi Krathong Festival, ThailandThe Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) had joined with Educational Institutions and Thai Boat Association in 2007 to present an Electric Float Procession from Taksin Bridge to Krungthon Bridge plus 12 buildings and historical sites along Chao Phraya River illuminated during Loi Krathong Festival.

Loi Krathong's lyrics (translation)

November full moon shines, Loi Krathong, Loi Krathong,

and the water's high in the river and local Khlong,

Loi Loi Krathong, Loi Loi Krathong,

Loi Krathong is here and everybody's full of cheer,

We're together at the Khlong, We're together at the Khlong,

Each one with this krathong, As we push away we pray,

We can see a better day.

People in Bangkok usually make (or buy) banana-leaf cup shaped boats to float on the Chao Phraya River and Klongs - Loi Krathong Festival, ThailandPeople in Bangkok usually make (or buy) banana-leaf cup shaped boats to float on the Chao Phraya River and Klongs (canals).

In Chiang Mai there is a different tradition the Yi Peng Festival, during which balloon-like ‘Khom Loi' lanterns including the ‘Khom Fai', fire lanterns – and ‘Khom Khwan', smoke lanterns – are flown into the sky as a symbol of worship to Phrathat Chulamani in heaven and any misfortune flies up and away with them.

In Tak province, the Loi Krathong Sai Festival is celebrated, where groups of people gather at the river banks, each bringing along thousands of Krathong made from half coconut shells with dried wicks made from coconut flesh anointed with oil or ash, they sing and dance with merriment. The span of the Ping River that passes by the provincial city of Tak is not deeper than one's waist, with underwater sand bars curving into different shapes, forcing the current to meander. When the lit Krathongs are floated onto the right current, one after another, they would meander along and make a beautiful and twinkling curving line, or Sai in Thai, amid the darkness of the night.

The famous Loi Krathong and Candle Festival in Sukhothai province features a procession of offerings, including Phanom Mak – the betel nut offering – and Phanom Dok Mai – the floral offering – carried by beautiful local girls, as well as banana-leaf floats accompanied by the so-called Nang Nopphamat beauty queens.

The Phanom Mak and Phanom Dok Mai offerings are for the homage paying rite at King Ramkhamhaeng the Great's Monument in the heart of the ancient city of Sukhothai. After that, people as well as visitors gather and float the Krathongs together on ponds, known as Traphang, inside the ancient city. The bright candle light from the floated Krathongs and the cool breeze of November together lends a pleasant atmosphere for all participants.

Grand Palace, Bangkok - Loi Krathong Festival, ThailandBesides the well-known Loi Krathong Festival, there is another tradition that is based on a similar belief but is celebrated on the full moon night of the eleventh lunar month. Known as the Illuminated Boat Procession, this celebration takes place in the Northeastern provinces of Thailand that are located on the Mekong River. Illuminated boats of approximately 10 – 12 metres long are made from banana stalks or bamboo by villagers. The boats contain sweets, the so-called Khao Tom Mat – stuffed fried sticky rice and donated objects inside, while decorated with flowers, incense sticks, candles, lamps and tinder outside. At present, the boats are created into various shapes such as important places or mythical creatures, which lend a bright and breathtaking sight when the boats are illuminated by thousands of lamps and are floated onto the river.

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Items annotated (TAT)
are courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand
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