Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai
The Festival of Light
By far the most romantic of Thailand’s celebrations, Loy Krathong takes place on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month. The Thai word ‘Loy’ means ‘to float in Thai, while ‘Krathong’ is a small raft, about a hand span in diameter, made from a section of banana tree trunk – although today specially made bread ‘flowers’ or even Styrofoam are used. Thais decorate their Krathongs with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense sticks. Some people also add hair or fingernail clippings.
Between the months of August and October the tides in Thailand’s waterways are at their highest and with the moon at its brightest, the stage is set for an idyllic conclusion to the rainy season. The general idea being to persuade the local serpent-ruler, Phaya Nak, to halt the monsoon rain, dispel the floods and return the rivers to their tranquil ways.
The act of floating Krathongs on rivers, canals or any other body of water symbolises letting go of grudges, problems and anger so that one can start life afresh – a cleansing tradition of sorts. The idea being that all people should prepare suitable offerings to present to the river spirits in order to obtain pardon and the absolution of their sins. In doing so the Thais are also welcoming the spirit of good fun or ‘sanook’ – something they know a lot about.