Make a Reservation

Sukosol Blog

Loy Krathong

by Social Media Manager (19 Jan 2013)

During the month of November Thailand is a spectacular place where magic and mystery can be found in many places. Loy Krathong is a colourful festival that flourishes every year on the full moon of the 11th month in the Thai Lunar calendar.

Loy Krathong is probably the most picturesque and beautiful of all Thai celebrations. “Loy” literally means “to float”, while “krathong” refers to the lotus-shaped respectable which can float on the water. Loy Krathong is as old as Thai heritage and represents a close bond between Thai culture and water. Many Thais believe that floating a raft will bring good luck, and they do it to honour ad thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Kongka.

Couples can get an insight into the future of their relationship by watching whether their krathongs float together or drift apart. They watch intently as the float drifts silently downstream, hoping that the candle will not go out. Its flame is said to signify longevity, fulfilment of wishes and release from sins. Altogether it is considered a romantic night for couples or lovers. Couples who make a wish together on Loy Krathong are thought to stay together in the future. On this particular night, on nearly every expanse of water, be it a river, lake or the ocean, you’ll notice thousands of lights drifting across the water like fairy dreams gently flickering in the breeze, making a spectacular sight. In Bangkok, 18 public parks are open to revellers until midnight where people can be seen carrying krathongs of every shape and size.

The Loy Krathong Festival is an ancient Brahman festival. Originally it was a ceremony where people paid their respects to three different gods known as Phra Isuan (Shive), Phra Narai (Vishnu) and Phra Phrom (Brahma). People would make lanterns using candles and paper, which would then be displayed in the home of royalty, rich people or high-ranking officials. One hundred and fifty years ago, at the urging of King Mongkut (Rama IV), it was adopted by Buddhists as a ceremony to honour the Buddha. N this new version people would make various kinds of lanterns, which would then be donated to the temples.

Loy Krathong thought to have originated in Sukhothai, but recently scholars have argued that it is in fact an invention from the Bangkok period. According to the writings of H.M. King Rama IV in 1863, the original festival was adopted by Buddhism in Thailand as a ceremony to honour Siddhartha Guatama. Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and defilements, so that one can start life afresh on a better footing.

Floating Lights
The krathong is a small floating device about 20 centimetres in diameter. Traditionally this was made from the leaves and wood of banana trees. The raft is decorated with flowers, a candle and an incense stick. People often leave a small coin in the krathong, and occasionally they will leave a lock of hair or even cut their fingernails and add them to the raft as a symbol of letting go of the bad parts of oneself.

On the night of the full moon people will light the candle and the joss stick, and float their krathong down the river. As with the khom loy (floating lantern), this is a way that bad fortune can be discarded and make to float away. Thousands of these will float down the river, making for a beautiful and moving spectacle.

Environmental Issues
Although Loy Krathong is an old Thai tradition, celebrated continuously since ancient times, the use of modern foam materials to make the krathong has taken its toll on the environment. Today, instead of synthetic foams, natural materials such as original banana leaves or even bread have been used to make the floats. In addition, krathong are increasingly being released in small canals or swimming pools to prevent pollution in the rivers. In this way, the old tradition can still be preserved while the rivers and waterways of Thailand remain in pristine condition for future generations.


Comment on this post

No Comment

Thank you.