Thailand is now in a festive mood for celebrations of Loy Krathong, one of the unique and more joyous Thai festivals. It takes place all over Thailand on the full-moon night of the twelfth lunar month, which this year falls on Sunday, November 21.
The festival lasts a few days in some places, but the highlight of the celebration is on the full-moon night, when people gather on the banks of rivers and canals to float lotus blossom-shaped vessels of various sizes call krathong.
The krathong usually contains a candle, three incense sticks, some flowers, and coins. They can be very elaborately done up to a high level of beauty. People celebrate this festival by lighting the candles and incense sticks, making a wish, and carefully placing the krathong on the surface of a river, canal, stream, or pond. It is a gesture of seeking forgiveness from the Goddess of Water, with the belief that the practice takes away the troubles in one’s life.
In the northern region, especially in Chiang Mai province, the Loy Krathong Festival is called Yi Peng. Local residents, in their special style of celebration, release hot-air lanterns into the sky. In Tak province, the krathong are replaced by coconut shells, which are threaded together and launched simultaneously, so they appear as long chains of hundreds of glittering lights on the Ping River, hence the origin of its name, “Loy Krathong Sai.”
Although the Loy Krathong Festival is celebrated in all parts of Thailand, the focal points of the celebration take place in several tourism provinces, such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and Hat Yai in Songkhla.
In order to help promote Thai culture, the Government Public Relations Department (PRD) will organize a three-day fair in celebration of the Loy Krathong Festival from November 19 to 21 at the PRD Headquarters on Soi Aree Samphan, Phahonyothin Road, in Bangkok. The fair features a bazaar of local products with 150 booths, where many kinds of food will be on offer. It will also include concerts, games, and a Nang Nopphamat beauty contest, a popular activity adding a splash of color to the festival. Nang Nopphamat, a royal consort of King Phra Ruang in the Sukhothai royal court, introduced a new form of krathong in the shape of a lotus flower, as well as other shapes, to be used in this festival. The King was attracted by this idea and decreed Loy Krathong an annual event.
Each year, Loy Krathong celebrants are urged to use krathong made from natural materials, such as banana leaves and stalks, replacing styrofoam, in order to reduce water pollution. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment led a group of artistes to meet Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on November 16 to present him with krathong made from vegetables and fruit. The presentation was part of a campaign for environmental preservation.
Thai people have also been urged to make a wish for the good health of His Majesty the King in the celebration of the Loy Krathong Festival this year.