Loy Krathong (Light Festival)
Thailand's waterways rivers, klongs, even hotel swimming pools will be ablaze with dazing lights on the evening of Nov. 14, when the Kingdom celebrates "Loy Krathong" one of the year's most-awaited festivals.
The annual festival, also celebrated in other neighboring countries, is held on the full moon day of the 12th lunar month. Thais place great importance in this event and while the best celebrations are said to be held in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Chiangmai, the event and while the best celebrations are said to be held in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Chiangmai, the event is marked with great funfair all over the Kingdom.
The festival is believed to have its beginnings at least in Thailand in Sukhothai Province, north of Bangkok, almost 800 years ago. A stone inscription from the Sukhothai Period describes an ancient Loy Krathong festival : "There are four main gates in the city of Sukhothai. On festive occasions, people jam the city to witness the light festival in progress. It's as if the city would burst." When the ancient Sukhothai city was restored to its former splendor as the Historical Park of Sukhothai, efforts were made to bring back ancient festivals and their legendary festive atmosphere. This brought back the light festival of Loy Krathong. It has remained a major attraction since.
This moniker seems apt as most floating objects you see during Loy Krathong nights are flowers formed like cups, if not artificial petals that look like cups in many angles.
It is a most colorful festival. In most areas where it is celebrated, you will see Thai women resplendent in colorful attire, hair festooned with flowers, and gaily-dressed men, also fully garbed, gather with floats in their hands wherever there's water.
As the krathongs meander while making their way downstream, you'll often see little boys swim to them to retrieve the tiny cargo of coins before releasing them down the "river of no return".
Explanation of the festival's significance vary. One belief is that as the floats embark on their journey, they take with it the owner's misfortunes. Most Thais also believe the floating of the krathong is a yearly sloughing off of all the sins and calamities that have befallen a person. On a lighter note, it's also believed that lovers can forecast the fortune of their romance by watching their krathong float downstream to gather.
Krathongs that remain together into the darkness, promise life-long partnership. This custom's religious significance is somewhat debatable, though. Some say Loy Krathong is an act of remission to the goddess Mae Khongkha, the mother of water.
Western psychologists say it symbolizes the egg's prenatal consciousness of its journey of the ovary down the fallopian tube to conception, a legend (for explanation) quite common to Eastern and Western cultures. The Biblical story of Moses in the Bulrushes is similar.
Whatever its significance, you shouldn't fail to watch or join in a Loy Krathong festival for a once in a life time experience. Check out the hotels or your travel agent for a schedule.