Loy Krathong, a festival for young lovers
SAMUI: ON Sunday, November 21, young lovers all over the Thailand will head for the nearest river, beach, canal or lake to celebrate Loy Krathong, one of the country’s most picturesque and charming festivals.
Thursday 3 November 2011, 12:43PM
They will float ornate floral baskets, or krathongs, decor-ated with banana leaves, flowers, candles and, incense sticks, on the water, make a wish, and watch them float away, hoping it will bring them longevity and good luck for the following year.
They will also light a lantern and set it loose into the night sky, hoping it will take any misfortune with it.
Loy Krathong, which is also known as the Festival of Light, takes place on the night of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, when the river tides are at their highest and the moon is at its brightest.
It’s the ideal romantic setting for lovers, who float their krathongs on the water to thank the water goddess, Phra Mae Kongka, for letting them use the rivers and canals.
It is also a way of thanking her for providing the water needed for the nation’s livelihood, and asking her forgiveness for polluting the waters.
‘Loy’ means ‘to float,’ while ‘krathong’ is the lotus-shaped flower basket which is floated on the water.
The original krathongs were made of banana leaves or a spider lily plant and contained food, betel nuts, flowers, joss sticks, candle and coins.
Many Thais make their own krathongs, although there will be plenty of stalls selling ready-made krathongs on the night.
The Loy Kratong ritual is a simple one, and everyone is welcome to join in.
Participants need only to light the candles and the joss sticks on the krathongs, and let them float away on the waterway and hope the candle stays alight.
The act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of any grudges or anger so participants can start life afresh.
Thais will often cut their fingernails and hair and add them to the raft as a symbol of ridding themselves of any evil.
The festival dates back to the 13th century in the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai when a young queen named Nang Noppamas made a small boat laden with candles and incense and floated it down the river.
A number of beauty contests usually accompany the festival and are known as Noppamas Queen Contests in her honour.
Today, the festival is simply an occasion for Thais to celebrate, make a wish and to look forward to a better future.
There will also be fireworks and the night sky will be dotted with thousands of ‘khom loy’ lanterns drifting high into the heavens.
This year, Loy Krathong will be celebrated on Sunday, November 21.