This year Loy Krathong day falls on November 18th, the festival is a ceremony that takes place on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month each year. People arrange blossoms, incense and candles, which along with other articles are placed in krathongs, boats, rafts, lotus flowers, and other non-drowned relics and floated along waterways.
THE HISTORY OF LOY KRATHONG DAY:
Loy Krathong is an important Hindu day in Thailand and South-east Asia that falls on the 15th day of the 12th lunar month according to the Thai lunar calendar. According to the Lanna lunar calendar it usually falls in November however some years it may fall in October. The Loy Krathong tradition was set up to take away bad luck and ask for forgiveness from Phra Mae Ganga, (River Ganges).
FESTIVAL OF LOY KRATHONG:
The Loy Krathong ritual stretches back to ancient times, however there is no definitive evidence as to exactly when it began but it appears since the Sukhothai period. His Majesty King Chulalongkorn believes it was originally a Brahmin ceremony to worship the three gods, Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, and that it was later followed in accordance with Buddhist guidelines.
Lanterns being hoisted to worship the relics of Phra Chula Mani at the second heaven where Indra dwells and floating lanterns to worship the Buddha’s footprints, which are enshrined at the Nammatha River beach. (The Nammatha River is a river in Western India that runs parallel to the Vinthai Ranges).
Mrs. Noppamas or Thao Si Chulalak, during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng, is said to have been the first to invent the krathong, which was originally known as the 1eong Pariang ceremony, in which Mrs. Noppamas brought Ko Thom flowers, a lotus that blooms only on the full moon day of the twelfth lunar month, to make a floating lantern in the shape of a lotus, which has been adhered to ever since. However, there is evidence that the Loy Krathong tradition is not older than the early Rattanakosin period, citing evidence from murals in the construction of various krathongs during the reigns of King Rama I and King Rama 2.
The design changed from a lotus flower to a banana tree because lotuses are rare and few, the banana tree doesn’t look as nice though, so later they used banana leaves instead. The Loy Krathong custom is observed in Thailand throughout the country, particularly in communities near rivers, canals, and other bodies of water, each place has its own distinct and intriguing characteristics. Other countries also hold Loy Krathong celebrations such as Laos, which floats krathongs in the Laos fire flow event on the day of Buddhist Lent’s end, (the 15th waxing moon of the 11th lunar month).
The festival is held twice a year in Cambodia! for the first Loy Krathong event in the middle of the 11th month, people will make a small krathong and stuff it with food, and for the second event in the middle of the 12th month, there will be a large krathong luang, (provided by the royal family), with food packed into it. On Loy Krathong Day in Burma, people create krathongs in the shape of blooming lotuses, fill them with incense sticks and candles, then cut their nails, hair, or insert cash into the krathong before floating it in the river.
Floating krathongs on the seaside is also popular in coastal areas, it is believed that it floats a misfortune away. Loy Krathong is again worshipped to pray for forgiveness from the goddess Ganga.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LOY KRATHONG DAY FOR THAILAND:
Loy Krathong is one of Thailand’s most important customs, which is observed according to local beliefs. The custom promotes values and importance by honouring and praising water that is helpful to human existence, as well as asking for forgiveness for water that humans have exploited or destroyed, such as tossing rubbish into the water or floating to pick up bad luck, the Loy Krathong tradition creates values and importance in many ways! -There is value to the family which allows family members to do activities together, such as making and floating Krathong to show appreciation for the water that has benefited us.
– It is beneficial to the community because it fosters community solidarity.
– It is beneficial to society and the environment to teach people to be thoughtful of one another and to assist maintaining clean rivers, canals, and other water sources.
– It contributes to religion by assisting in the preservation and transmission of ancient Thailand’s positive customs. There is also a merit-making ritual, as well as listening to sermons and following local traditions.
– In addition, rivers, canals and other water sources are cleaned before and after the Loy Krathong festival, such as digging out canals, collecting garbage or sewage in the water source, then when floating the Krathong in the canal a ritual is performed to honour the value of the river and making a promise to keep the water supply clean.
An initiative is currently underway to develop a krathong out of biodegradable natural materials for aquatic animal food.
EACH REGION HAS ITS OWN LOY KRATHONG TRADITIONS AS FOLLOWS:
The North! Making floating lanterns, also known as wind kites or light kites, which are made of thin cloth, is popular here, then, with the smoke beneath them, hoist them up into the air like a balloon.
This Northern ritual is known as Yi Peng, (meaning making merit on the full moon day of the Yi month, which corresponds to the full moon day of the twelfth lunar month in Thai style).
Or floating lanterns on the water in various designs, both of which are practiced in Chiang Mai, every year, a huge and dramatic event takes place in which lanterns are released into the sky to fill the sky. Some will be floated in Tak province.
Here it was previously known as ‘Sipsong Peng’, which refers to the full moon of the twelfth lunar month. Roi Et province is believed to be the representative of the North-eastern Loy Krathong festival. In ‘Samanam Khunpeng Seng Prateep’, which means “praying for forgiveness from the goddess Ganga on the full moon night of the twelfth month”.
The event’s highlight is a light and sound spectacle based on the legend of Roi Et. In Sakon Nakhon Province it is similar to making an ancient bee castle and krathongs were once floated from the leaf sheaf of banana tree.
Loy Krathong is celebrated in every province in the central region, with Bangkok hosting the Golden Mountain Fair which is staged in the style of a temple and begins 7-10 days before, and finishes after Loy Krathong day.
A large festival event in the Central region is hosted in the Ayutthaya Historical Park in the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province. There is a fantastic light and sound spectacle at the occasion.
In the Southern region, in Hat Yai District, Songkhla has a great event, and in other provinces, Loy Krathong is held as well. In addition, each locality may have different traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
In Hua Hin, the municipality hosts a Loy Krathong event every year to keep the custom alive and encourage visitors to appreciate Thai culture and traditions according to the belief in asking for forgiveness from Phra Mae Ganga, the river of life.
The nigh time activity is considered the highlight of the Hua Hin event, most popular is at Khao Tao Reservoir the royal initiative, Hua Don and Takiab communities are also popular as there are always a lot of visiting tourists there. Throughout Hua Hin city there are throngs of visitors and residents celebrating the festival wherever there is water.