Loy Krathong is a Siamese festival celebrated annually throughout southwestern Tai cultures. The name could be translated as “to float a basket”, and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river. Speedboat Xperience shares with you a glimpse of the Thai culture.
Overview of the celebration
Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar; hence, the exact date of the festival changes every year. In the Western calendar this usually falls in the month of November. In 2017, it is on the 4th of November.
The meaning of the expression could be translated as a small container made of leaves which can be floated on water. Krathong is traditionally a small leaf container which is made to hold a small portion of goods like a traditional Thai dish (such as “Hor Mok”) or dessert. The traditional krathong used for floating at the festival are made from a slice of a banana tree trunk or a spider lily plant. A small coin is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirits.
The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements. People sometimes cut their fingernails or hair and place the clippings on the krathong as a symbol of letting go of past transgressions and negative thoughts.
Yi Peng celebration
Loi Krathong coincides with the Lanna (northern Thai) festival known as Yi Peng. Yi means “two” and peng means a “full moon day”. The festival is meant as a time to make merit. Swarms of sky lanterns, literally: ‘floating lanterns’, are launched into the air. It is made from a thin fabric, such as rice paper, stretched over a bamboo or wire frame, to which a candle or fuel cell is attached. When the fuel cell is lit, the resulting hot air is trapped inside the lantern and creates enough lift for the khom loi to float into the sky.
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