This year, the Loy Krathong Festival takes place on Sunday 17th November. Loy Krathong Festival, also known as the Festival of Light, is the most beautiful and picturesque of all Thai celebrations. The festival takes place on the evening of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, (usually in November.) It happens at this time of year, because there is the highest tide of the year, known as the ‘great flood season.’
‘Loy’ means ‘to float’ and Krathong refers to the lotus-shaped floating decoration. A traditional Krathong is made from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree. It is then decorated in elaborately folded banana leaves, flowers, three incense sticks and a candle. Some people place, on the Krathong, a nail clipping and some strands of hair, as a symbol of letting go of negative thoughts. A coin may also be included, as an offering to the water gods. Firstly, the candles and the incense sticks are lit and then the Krathong is carefully set afloat on a river, canal, pond or estuary. It is the custom to take part in this festival with your loved ones and to make a silent wish, as you let go of the Krathong.
The Origins of Loy Krathong
Different legends surround the origins of Loy Krathong. It is often claimed to have begun in Sukhothai (a northern province of Thailand,) by a court lady named Nopphamat. However, it is now known that the Nopphamat tale comes from a poem written in the early Bangkok period. According to H.M. King Rama IV, writing in 1863, it was an ancient Hindu festival, that was adapted by Thai Buddhists to honor Buddha (Prince Siddhartha Gautama). They say the offering of flowers, candles and incense sticks is a tribute to the footprint of the Lord Buddha on the sandy beach of the Narmaha River in India and to the great Serpent and dwellers of the underwater world, after Lord Buddha’s visit to their watery realm. It is also possible that it derived from a Hindu festival that pays tribute to the god Vishnu, who meditates at the centre of the ocean. Others believe that the floral Krathong is offered to the pagoda containing the Lord Buddha’s topknot, which was cut off at his self-ordination and is now in heaven. Another explanation is that it is a way to pay respect to ones’ ancestors.
However, nowadays Thais use their Krathong to express their gratitude to the goddess of water, ‘Phra Mea Khongkha’. This gesture gives thanks to Phra Mea Khongkha for providing them with fresh water all year round and continuing to give them water for the coming dry months (high season). It is also an occasion to symbolically take away ones’ problems and bad luck, with the hope of good luck for the coming year. Beauty contests are held at large Loy Krathong events and are named ‘Nopphamat,’ in memory of the court lady featured in the early Bangkok period poem. ‘Khom Loy’ (floating lanterns) are also lit and released into the sky, in the hope that misfortune will fly away with them. These make for a stunning spectacle, as they gently float upwards, lighting up the night sky and as they climb higher, looking like stars. In some hotels, swimming pools are turned into a temporary river for the Loy Krathong celebration.
There are events for Loy Krathong all over Ko Lanta, however, the main event takes place in Lanta Old Town. it is a spectacular event with the added attractions of fireworks, a beauty contest, a market and a competition for the best resort’s Krathong.
Today, the use of modern foam materials to make the Krathong has taken its toll on the environment. We at Scubafish, condemn the use of synthetic materials to make a Krathong. We would ask you to please use natural materials.
Loy Krathong Song
November full moon shines
Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong
and the water’s high
in local river and the klong
Loy Loy Krathong
Loy Loy Krathong
Loy Krathong is here and everybody’s full of cheer
We’re together at the klong
Each one with their Krathong
As we push away we pray
We can see a better day
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