Loy Kratong — a celebration of water and light in Thailand
One of the most beautiful Thai holidays, Loy Kratong, is held in the kingdom every year on the first full moon of November. It is a celebration of light and water, the day when the Thais let go of the bad and make wishes, releasing their cratons into the water.
What is Loy Krathong
In Thai, the name of the holiday itself means “floating boat”. It is worth saying that it is fully justified, because on this day boats are released from the leaves, decorated with various incense, candles and flowers. As a base, a banana leaf is usually used. But at the same time, the cragon boats themselves can be completely different.
As a rule, for tourists who want to join the holiday, sell simple options made of banana leaves with foam attached to the bottom, which helps them to stay afloat.
▣ Craton of flowers and banana stem.
Thais usually choose something more individual. Created by Thai masters, kratongs are made in the form of boats and birds, while more expensive specimens resemble miniature palaces. Thais either buy or make their crafts themselves. This is done in advance, and on the eve of the holiday, they stand in a prominent place, admiring the guests of the kingdom for its beauty.
▣ Colorful kratongs in the form of a boat, are already more expensive. ▣ An instance of a craton in the form of a bird.
Where and when is Loy Krathong celebrated
Loy Krathong in Thailand falls on the eleventh or twelfth full moon of the year. That is, on the first full moon of November. The ritual of launching boats is performed in the evening, when mist has already descended on the cities and towns so that you can admire thousands of luminous cratons sailing somewhere off into the distance. The largest krathong is made and launched into the water in the Thai architectural capital Sukhothaya. After all, it was in this city several centuries ago that the ritual of their launch was founded.
▣ Celebration of Loy Krathong in the capital.
Loy Krathong festival is held annually in all provinces of Thailand. In search of fun and colorful spectacles should go to the beaches or in the city center. For example, in Pattaya, the main events are held on beach roads. There you can even find exhibition tents with the crathons shown in them.
▣ Tents with crathons on the streets in Thailand.
In the northern cities of Thailand, where the holiday is celebrated most colorfully, in addition to the traditional procedure for launching boats, solemn processions, masquerades and fairs are also held.
Loy Krathong and lanterns
The second integral part of the celebration of water and light is the launch of lanterns. Balloons made of thin papyrus paper are filled with hot air from a spark inside the light and soar into the sky. Releasing such a flashlight, Thais make wishes, hoping that it will come true. In some cases, a leaflet with wishes recorded on it is attached to the flashlight.
▣ Air lights on Loy Kratong in Thailand.
At Loy Kratong, such lanterns are sold literally at every turn, although the government does not really approve of this procedure, after which faded lanterns are found on roofs, wires and roads all over the country. But the Thais who find them on the ground, unlike the Europeans, do not get angry, but on the contrary, mention the one who started the flashlight in his prayers, wishing that his desire would come true.
But there are also less pleasant consequences of launching flashlights. They can create an emergency situation, if they begin to decline, without extinguishing. Lanterns need to run carefully and away from airports. After all, flickering lights can confuse the pilot and lead to an accident.
In this case, the unlucky owners of lanterns face a prison or even the death penalty, still permitted in Thailand.
But, no matter what, no one is going to give up the beautiful tradition of launching sky lanterns. After all, when thousands of Thais and tourists launch lighted lanterns into the night sky, the spectacle turns out to be really exciting. But if for tourists the rituals held at Loy Krathong are just a beautiful sight, then Thais put a deeper meaning in them.
History and traditions of the holiday
The tradition to celebrate Loy Krathong is quite ancient. It all began in the distant Middle Ages, in the era of Sukhothai. It was then that the King’s wife Cast during a mass celebration dedicated to the water element, decided to give thanks to the water, which gives us strength and life. She put her offering in the form of cut fruits into a huge bowl of banana leaves and bamboo stalks and let it down the river. The king liked this idea so much that he ordered to repeat the procedure for launching cratons each year throughout the kingdom. Since then, Loy Kratong has firmly entrenched in the Thai calendar and has become one of the favorite holidays, both Thais and tourists.
▣ No feast without a king.
Like the very first copy, craton traditionally made from banana leaves. The government of the kingdom opposes the presence of plastic fasteners, nails and other elements that pollute the environment. But it is difficult to go against tradition. Thais continue to decorate their boats so that they look decent and rich. The filling of the craong is also a whole separate ritual. The following things are usually put into the boat: candles, incense, money, hair strands, etc.
▣ Local needlewomen will create unique craton.
A candle that is fixed in the center symbolizes at the same time the light and the teachings of the great Buddha. And if the owner of the boat wants good spirits to absolve him of all sins on this day, he puts there strands of his hair or nails. And, of course, gifts for the water element are considered the most important element of the craong design. As a rule, Thais fill the boat with fruits, nuts, coins and different colors.
How to carry out the ritual
Loy Krathong, like most traditional Thai holidays, is celebrated along with the closest. But besides this, there are also rules that need to be fulfilled if, by launching a crathong, you want to clear karma and get a wish fulfillment as a gift.
▣ Celebration is celebrated with families and loved ones.
First of all, you need to find a reservoir. The sea is best suited, especially in calm weather. But in the extreme case any lake, river or even a pool will do, the main thing is the presence of water. It is necessary to proceed to filling your craton with positive thoughts, letting go of all the bad and wanting only the good. Light candles or incense, put coins, gifts and, if you wish, a part of your body inside the boat: a fingernail or a strand of hair.
▣ Thais ask Phra Maekhong Kha for the forgiveness of sins, joy and prosperity.
When the crathong is ready, you should kneel down, bringing it to your head and asking the goddess Phra Meekhong Kha for the forgiveness of sins, joy and well-being. After that, it remains only to let go of the Krathong and follow its fate. If he does not sink, then your karma will be cleared, and your wish will come true. If the boat goes to the bottom, it means that the goddess did not like your gift.
Loy Krathong is one of the Thai holidays that tourists should really visit to get as many positive emotions and pleasant memories about Thailand as possible.