Sunday, November 13, 2011

Loi Krathong

I experienced my first Thai festival, Loi Krathong, last Thursday. This takes place annually on the evening of the full moon of what is usually November on the western calender. 'Loi' literally means 'to float' while 'krathong' is the lotus-shaped float often made out of banana leaves. The festival is often referred to as the "festival of light" or "floating lantern ceremony". On this evening, all over the country, thousands of Thais gather at a local river, canal or lake to light a candle on their hand-made float, make a wish, and let their float be carried away by the current. The flame is supposed to signify a release of sins.

There was some controversy about celebrating the festival in Bangkok due to the on-going flooding. Still, the tradition was carried on in Bangkok at 18 different parks/rivers in the Bangkok area. Throughout various parts of the country, the festival is celebrated in similar and different ways. I was lucky enough to witness and participate in Loi Krathong at one of the parks in Bangkok.

There was an obvious buzz in the skytrains and streets of Bangkok on Thursday night. The feeling of excitement in the air was unquestionably contagious. The scenery at the park left me in awe; I would have been happy to spend hours watching people make their wishes with such sanctity and send off their floats. Loi Krathong was an enriching experience that has helped refresh my memory with why I am really here.
Tomorrow, I am off to Kanchantaburi, a province rich in history & filled with beautiful waterfalls, trekking, and animals galore! Must keep busy while my fate lies with the flooding.

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