Loi Krathong is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand. It is held on the night of the 12th lunar month which is usually in November after the end of the rainy season. “Loi” means to float and “Krathong” is an arrangement or a bundle of flowers with candle and incense specifically made for the holiday.
Historically, there are many beliefs explaining why Thai people celebrate Loi Krathong. For one, it is believed as an act of apology to the Goddess of Water for polluting the rivers, oceans or any bodies of water. Others also believed it as a way of cleansing oneself from sickness and emotional sufferings. They leave their nail clippings or strand of hair to symbolize the sending away of the dark side of oneself. By letting go of the bad stuff, they’re welcoming happiness and good luck for the new year.
In the past, Krathong is usually made up of banana trunk core covered with banana leaves and decorated with beautiful flowers on top. Nowadays, Krathongs are made up of styrofoam and bread. The options available now are numerous varying in styles and the materials used.
Having worked in the education sector in Thailand for years, I have observed that most schools commemorate the festivity through activities and presentation showcasing Thai dance and Thai traditional songs. Additionally, almost all schools have the “Krathong Making” competition for their students.
Where to go
Generally, Thai people go to rivers, small canals called “Klong”, lakes and ponds to take part in the celebration. They could either make their own Krathong or buy it. Normally, the cost range from 30-300 Baht depending on the materials used, size and design. The releasing of Krathong usually takes place after the sunset, at around 6-7 PM.
A Thai colleague once told me that the place does not really matter because, for those who don’t want to be in a crowd, for instance, could have their own quiet ritual at home with their families. They can float their Krathongs even in a small basin of water.
I think, what really is important is not the location but the thoughts and sincerity of the heart during this special occasion, just like in any celebrations.
2018 Loi Krathong Experience
This year, I decided to take part in the Loi Krathong festival at Benjasiri Park. It’s a big park close to Asok BTS station and Terminal 21 Shopping Mall. Outside the park was an array of Krathongs sold. It was where we bought ours for only 60 Baht. Another thing one must have is a lighter or match. Otherwise, buy one like us for 10 Baht.
I prayed my own version of Thanksgiving and apology before releasing the Krathong at about 6.30 PM, just a few minutes after sunset.
We stayed until around 7 PM while people are starting to crowd at the park. I was glad we started earlier than the others because it was much relaxing when we weren’t rushed and we didn’t have trouble finding a spot.
That was my 2018 Loi Krathong celebration.
Thank you for reading!