Celebrating at Wat Pahn Tao, Chiang Mai.

The Origins of Loy Krathong

 

A festival of quiet celebration, the origins of Loy Kratong are unclear, but it is believed that it started in Sukhothai, (north of Bangkok) one of the most powerful cities in Asia, around 800 years ago.

Made from the cellulose trunk of a banana tree, the idea behind the kratongs is to put all your misfortunes in a boat, and allow them to literally float away. ("Loy"- to float, and "krathong" - a leaf cup or bowl) Great care is taken to decorate the kratongs with flowers and banana leaves, leaving room for the candles and 3 sticks of incense.

Loy Krathong always falls on Thai school holidays, so during the day the whole family are often involved in making elaborately decorated Kratongs. Some coins, a lock of hair, or nail clipping are placed inside to represent the owner before the kratong is launched on a river, canal, or the sea, accompanied by a prayer.

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.

While Loy Kratong is not strictly a religious festival, some Thais believe that it pays homage to the water goddess, Mae Khongkha. Whatever the significance, it's a magical "not-to-be-missed" event.

Thailand's famous lantern festival, 'festival of lights'. Held yearly, on the evening of the twelfth lunar month, it is the time of year when the waters around the country become alive with candlelight and look not unlike massive fairy ballrooms. When staying in a coastal area, you can see these 'ballrooms' extending for miles out to sea. In fact, sailors, making their way towards the likes of Phuket, have reported seeing them close to the Similan Islands and beyond. This is Pahn Tao temple (Wat Pahn Tao) a magical place to watch this beautiful Buddhist ceremony that is part of the festival. The atmosphere was simply magical. 

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