This year’s Loy Krathong Festival, the most romantic night on the Thai calendar, falls on Thursday, November 22.
The entire Kingdom will be celebrating, with most everyone going to the water’s edge to loy (float) their krathong. Organizers are requesting people wishing to float a krathong to use only those made from all natural material that will easily biodegrade.
Since it is such a revered holiday, expect a large influx of people flowing into the resort. This will most likely cause more than a few traffic jams, so please plan ahead should you choose to drive anywhere during the holiday period.
A bit of history
According to the history written by King Mongkut in 1863, the Loy Krathong festival has its roots in ancient Brahmin culture, going back some 700 years. The spirits of the river were given offerings which were sailed in the river in small boats (krathongs) and in this way the owner of the krathong would gain absolution. This was a Brahmin belief.
The small boats fashioned by the beautiful and talented Nang Noppamas, the daughter of a Brahmin priest and wife of King Phra Ruang, were notable for their construction and beauty. It was this king who then dedicated the krathong to the memory of the Buddha, and decreed that the event would be called Loy Krathong and that it should become an annual celebration to commemorate the skill and beauty of his consort. In this way he lifted it out of Brahmin culture and installed it into the accepted Buddhist way of life. This is the reason that the krathongs now carry three incense sticks representing the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
During the Loy Krathong Festival, people decorate their krathong with flowers, joss sticks and candles which will then sail away, taking with them bad health, bad luck and unhappiness.
Lanterns are well-known symbols in the Loy Krathong Festival, too, being used to decorate houses and temples in worship of the guardian spirits. There are four kinds of lantern used in the festival: the hand-held rabbit lantern, the hot air balloon lantern (kom loy), the hanging lantern for religious worship, and the spin lantern installed at the temples. The belief in lanterns is that the lights inside compare with the wisdom the people will gain in the next life.
This Thursday, invite your girlfriend, boyfriend, family members and/or significant other to buy or create a krathong, then visit the nearest seashore, lake or river and float away your worries.