Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong

22. November 2018 @ 18:00 – 22:00
The 813 Police Boat
Bang Niang
Khuek Khak, Takuapa, Phang Nga

The most picturesque Festival in Thailand. Get involved with your very own ‘Krathong’

Why Khao Lak should care about Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong is a fine example of Thailand’s intense relationship with water. At its most beautiful, a traditional ‘Krathong’ is made from the stalk of a Banana tree and intricately decorated with folded banana leaves. It takes place the night of the Full moon, the 12th month of the Thai Lunar Calendar (usually November). Place a candle, incense sticks, some of your hair/fingernails, and a few coins inside your Krathong, and send it off down the river.A Typical 'Krathong' at Loy Krathong Photo by: John Shedrick License: CC BY 2.0

The candle’s shining light pays respect to the Buddha, while the small boats drifting off represent letting go of ones negativity and past transgressions. The hair/fingernails represent the passing of your own deeds and actions. It is also used as an offering to Thailand’s goddess of water. It is a thank you for the water they have been given and an apology for any mistreatment or pollution.

Khao Lak’s entire tourist sector depends on water. The Andaman Sea gives us beautiful beaches, Scuba diving and Snorkelling. The Rains provide us with an abundance of National Parks, Waterfalls and rivers. Songkran gives us the opportunity to play with water. But maybe we should take one day a year for more quiet contemplation of how important water is to us, and our responsibility to take care of it.

Thailand’s love and hate relationship

Thailand has a very historical relationship with water. Loy Krathong marks the end of the rainy season and end of the rice harvest. Sonkran’s traditions of pouring water is a symbol of cleansing and washing away your sins. Monsoon rains plays a huge role in Thai culture too. ‘Vassa’ (Wan Khao Phansa) is when monks wait out the Monsoon rains by staying inside a monastery and performing intense meditation. Lay Buddhists use this time to give up one of their vices, which is why Vassa is often referred to as ‘Buddhist Lent’.A typical 'Naga' monster as seen in most Thai temples Photo by: Petr & Bara Ruzicka License: CC BY 2.0

However, there is also a fear of water instilled in some Thais. As a safety precaution against drowning, Thai children are taught about the ‘Naga’. This serpent like river monster from Buddhist mythology is often enough to scare kids from entering the water. Think the Loch Ness Monster of Thailand. If you have lived here for a while, you probably know several Thai people that live within five minutes of a beach or lake, yet never learned how to swim.

Thai people know they need to respect water. The Tsunami is of course the biggest event in Khao Lak’s history. More generally, rising sea levels and droughts may all have huge impacts on Thailand’s future. For all the reasons above, this respect and relationship with water is why Loy Krathong is just as important as Songkran.

How to get involved

Loy Krathong is one of the most picturesque and colourful Festivals in Thailand. Seeing thousands of flickering lights floating down the river can give you some beautiful holiday memories. Many hotels get involved with traditional dances, fireworks or lanterns. But if you would like to experience the traditional way of doing things, then the best area to visit around Khao Lak is the 813 boat in Bang Niang.The finished product at Loy Krathong Festival Photo by: Megan Smith License: CC BY 2.0

Above you can see a fully finished Krathong. Here we explain how to get your own. The 813 boat has the largest gathering of people. There are shows and strangely, even a beauty pageant. Food stalls line the pathway to the entrance and of course, stalls for you to buy your own Krathong. Visit in the evening once it has become dark, then follow these 3 easy steps to get involved:

  • Choose your Krathong

Have a look around the many stalls to see which one you like the most. One word of advice is to choose one made from natural (biodegradable) materials. Banana stalk, spider lily plants or bread are all ok. Try not to pick a styrofoam one.

  • Put a bit of yourself in

The Krathong should already come equipped with a candle and incense. Now is the time to add a bit of yourself. You can put in one of the hairs from your head or cut of a fingernail. This represents your past transgressions and by sending them down the river you are effectively letting them go.

  • Let go…

Follow the crowd until you find the platform for you to release your Krathong. When your turn comes, light the candle and incense, then gently let go and send your little boat off. Try to let go of any negative thoughts and feelings.

Loy Krathong is a beautiful, quiet and contemplative event. It is a wonderful cultural experience. Observing Thai people sending their quiet prayers downstream is a humbling sight. You can also see young couples sending their floats down the river to give them a clue of how their relationship will evolve. Will their floats stay together on the journey downstream? Or will they drift apart? Take your time to sit back and absorb the atmosphere. Loy Krathong is definitely a special part of Amazing Thailand!

Loy Krathong

Photo by: John Shedrick License: CC BY 2.0

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