A festival for good fortune

In Thailand we have many “special days’ or festivals as the Thai people as a nation love holidays.

Loi Krathong (or Loy Krathong) is probably the most beautiful event in Thailand. The time of year it takes place depends on when the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar is, for this year it is on the 28th of November.

It is a festival of quiet celebration, which the whole family enjoys together. The origins of Loy Kratong are unclear, but it is believed that it started in Sukhothai to the north of Bangkok, which was one of the most powerful cities in Asia around 800 years ago. The festival is believed to originate from the ancient practice of paying respect to the spirit of the waters.
Loi literally means ‘to float,’ while krathong refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle which can float on the water, the krthong is made from the cellulose trunk of a banana tree. Great care is taken to decorate the kratongs with flowers and banana leaves, leaving room for the candles and 3 sticks of incense, the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and defilements, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot.

At sunset on the 28th, take your krathong to the nearest beach, lake or similar watery area and release it with the outgoing tide or current. The belief being, that if the krathong floats away from you, the coming year will bring good fortune, if it floats back towards the shore, then perhaps your luck may not be quite as you had wished.
On releasing the kratong, you can help your fortunes along a little by placing personal items on the floating platform. Some put nail clippings or strands of hair into the krathong, in the belief that the sins of the past year will be washed away; coins too are often placed inside as a way of making merit. It’s believed the “boat” will carry your bad luck into the distance, and enable a better start to the following year. Loy Kratong is a big night for lovers. Couples who make a wish together on this day will enjoy long-lasting love, especially if their kratongs remain together on the water.

Thai’s and tourists alike usually set the kratongs on the sea, creating a scene as thousands of candlelit kratongs bob on the waves. All of Phuket’s major west coast beaches take part in Loy Kratong festivities. Nai Harn Lake and Patong Beach usually have the most activity with locals visiting beaches like Kata and Karon.

On the same evening you will also see many lanterns sent up into the sky, this is due to the festival of Lama which coincides with Loi Krathong. The lanterns which are made of thin fabric such as rice paper have a candle inside which when lit heats up the air and sends the lantern upwards. This means we have lights floating in the sea and lakes and lanterns lighting up the sky’s.

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