Loi Krathong, a unique festival in Thailand

Loi Krathong, one of the biggest festivals in Thailand, takes place on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month according to the Buddhist calendar, which usually falls in November.  This year the event will take place on November 17, although the celebrations usually start several days before and end several days later, depending on each city.

The origins of Loi Krathong

On this magical night, the end of the rainy season is celebrated and the Thais pay special homage to Mae Khongkha, the Hindu Goddess of Water, based on an ancient Brahman custom that over time has been incorporated into traditional Buddhist rituals. However, the origins of Loi Krathong have not been fully clarified and there are several fascinating legends about it.

Some experts speculate that it is of Hindu origin and based on the “Deepavalee” ritual of India, in which oil lamps are also thrown into river basins in an act of worship to Trimurti (Brahma, Siva and Vishnu). According to another school of thought, the ritual is based on ancient Buddhist legends and is undertaken to pay respect to the Sacred Footprint of the Buddha on the bank of the mythical Nammadhammahantee river. Whatever the origin, the result is a spectacle as spiritual as it is amazingly visual, even for the most gnostic and foreign.

To do this, they float the krathong in any water flow, be it a river, pond or lake, which consists of a small basket as a boat, built with banana leaves. Lotus flowers, coins, incense sticks, candles and colored paper are placed inside, all done with patience, care and creativity as if it were a work of art. Its meaning goes beyond the aesthetic, a krathong is an offering through which gratitude is transmitted for all the good things, a new phase begins and a request is made to put aside all the bad things in a kind of spiritual renewal. Some, carried away by superstition, even introduce a piece of hair or fingernail into the basket or krathong in the hope of getting rid of any blow of life.

Everyone is welcomed at this festival and visitors are even encouraged to make their own krathong and watch as the water washes it away along with everyone else.

By throwing thousands of krathongs into the river with their lit candles, a beautiful spectacle is produced that creates “snakes of light” throughout the riverbeds. All this with the full moon in the background accompanied by music, dances, parades, fireworks and beach bars where you can try all kinds of local delicacies.

Different places to celebrate the festival

Although the celebrations and offerings cover the entire country, there are some particularly magical places to contemplate this spectacle due to their magnificent and historical surroundings, such as Sukhothai, Tak or Chiang Mai, which offer celebrations with different nuances typical of each area and over several days. of constant partying

Thus, for example in Sukhothai, one of the most important scenarios, the activities include, in addition to the krathong floating ceremony, fireworks displays, games and local competitions in a spectacular staging. The beauty of this event lies in the setting as it takes place on the lake in the Sukhothai Historical Park, a World Heritage Site. In Chiang Mai, an astonishing procession of paper lanterns will light up the sky while the rivers will flood with krathongs and all around dancing, markets and demonstrations of the authentic Lanna culture of the north.

In Tak, for its part, the festivities will last 5 days. In this remote city the celebrations are different, even the Krathongs are made of coconut shell and not banana and are organized by teams that throw them together by a thin rope, competing among themselves to see who gets the longest and most thus winning the annual His Majesty the King Trophy. Other activities will include the Royal Family paper lanterns, the Royal Krathong procession and of course a fair with capital letters that includes local food stalls everywhere (including fried insects, a delicatessen for those who have this custom, so deeply rooted in those lands), traditional music and dance groups and an atmosphere so authentic that the foreigner who goes there can live the experience of feeling almost thai.

There are parties for one night or for several days, so it is best to check the official website Festivals in Thailand to find out what events are planned in each city.

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