Loy Krathong Festival

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Loy Krathong is a colorful festival held every year on the full moon of the twelfth month in the Thai Lunar Calendar and is celebrated all over Thailand. This Thai festival features beautifully illuminated lanterns, which are either carried, displayed in houses and temples, or even launched into the sky. Lights are also set adrift on waterways.  In 2013,  Loy Krathong  will be celebrated on Sunday, 17 November.

History of Loy Krathong

The Loy Krathong Festival was originally a ceremony where people paid their respects to Hindu deities. People would make lanterns using candles and paper, which would then be displayed in the homes of royalty, rich people or high-ranking officials. Later, at the urging of King Mongkut (Rama IV), it was adopted by Buddhists as a ceremony to honour the Buddha. In this new version people would make various kinds of lanterns, which would then be donated to the temples. People would say prayers to ask that their wishes and hopes for the future be fulfilled. Of course, many of the older beliefs are still retained. The lights that are floated on the water are meant to symbolise the drifting away of bad luck and misfortune.

Loy Krathong Parade

Loy Krathong Parade

Loy Krathong Illuminated Lanterns

There are several different kinds of illuminated lanterns or Khoms. They are made of paper, but often contain a bamboo cylinder inside it to protect the paper from the heat of the candle. Some are carried during parades, others are us

ed to decorate homes and temples. Finally, there is the famous Khom Loy. This lantern is actually a small hot air balloon which is launched into the air to carry away bad luck.

Loy Krathong Lantern Release

Releasing a Lantern (Khom Loy)

Loy Krathong Sky Lanterns

The Khom Loy, is a cylinder of paper about one metre high, braced with wire circles. Suspended from the cylinder is a tray containing cotton soaked in kerosene. Fireworks and firecrackers are also often attached. These catch fire and explode after the balloon is launched. Once the cotton is lit it takes about a minute before the balloon is hot enough to fly.

People will often say a short prayer before the balloon is released. Sometimes they will also place their address in the balloon, or write it on the outside. Anyone who later finds the balloon can then claim money from the sender. In this way the good fortune is shared.

Loy Krathong

Mass baloon release

Loy Krathong Floating Lights

The Krathong is a small floating offering about 20 centimeters in diameter. Traditionally made from the leaves and wood of the banana tree, 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 their hair or even nail clippings. On the night of the full moon people will light both the candle and the joss stick, and allow the krathong to float away. As with the khom loy, it is a way of getting rid of bad luck. The thousands of krathong in the water and the thousands of khom loy in the sky, together with the constant barrage of fireworks, makes for an unforgettable experience.

A Krathong about to be released

A Krathong about to be released

Have you been to a Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand? Why not write a review and share your experiences below!

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Updated: February 4, 2013 by admin

Comments

  1. We were so glad that our trip to Chiang Mai coincided with the Loy Krathong festival. Unfortunately we missed the mass balloon release as that would have been something to see. Don’t expect to get any early nights during the week long celebrations as the fireworks go on until the wee small hours.

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