Explore Loy Krathong festival — The sacred festival of light in Thailand

Loy Krathong, which occurs in November, is as old as Thai history and reflects a strong relationship between Thai culture and the supernatural realm. In their krathongs, which are typically constructed of banana leaves, the participants beseech water spirits to take away their worries. Let’s have a look at the traditional Loy Krathong event in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Release lanterns in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand

“It will be very crowded tonight, so we have to set off early. We’d better go together so as not to get lost” Karin,the curator of our course said.

At 8:00 p.m., two songtaew (a common mode of transportation in Chiang Mai, Thailand) awaited our 20-person group. We were on our way to Mae Jo University, where thousands of lanterns (khom loy) will be released simultaneously to commemorate the start of the Loy Krathong Festival.

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Loy Krathong festival

What is Loy Krathong (Loy Krathong meaning) ?

Lanterns over Wat Chedi Luang Temple, Chiang Mai in Loy Krathong Festival
Lanterns over Wat Chedi Luang Temple, Chiang Mai in Loy Krathong Festival

Loi Krathong is historically conducted on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, which is generally in November. In appreciation for supplying life-sustaining water, gifts are offered to Mae Khongkha — Mother of Waters.

Some think that casting the krathong adrift symbolizes casting away one’s sadness and misfortune. There are strange stories of superstitious people inserting tufts of hair or cut fingernails into the krathong in the hope of breaking a spell of bad luck or disaster.

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Monks pray in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai

Festivals of Sky Lanterns

With many lanterns and flower shops on both sides of the street, the location of the festival was clearly identified. Karin instructed us to make our way back to the parking lot in case anyone became disoriented. We discovered a decent place on Mae Jo School’s sprawling grass. While we waited, everyone spread out a mat and ate fried rice and fruits.

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Pray in Loy Krathong festival

It was breezy and sunny. The moonlight became very brilliant. There were a lot of international visitors in the audience. We drank, snapped photographs, and spoke until it was time for prayer. Only the sound of prayer from the monks could be heard as the throng became silent. A firework burst intermittently in the calm environment. A khom loy would occasionally appear in the black sky. Despite the language barrier, I could sense a serious mood and the devotees’ reverence for Buddha.

Monks pray in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai
Monks pray in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai

The prayer service lasted around 30 minutes. The most-awaited moments arrived at 9:00 p.m. The festival helpers began setting fire to all of the lanterns. Karin informed us that only by being set on fire could our prayers be answered. Each group of three or four individuals hoisted and ignited a khom loy. I sensed a force pulling the lanterns skyward once the flame was powerful enough. To enjoy the warmth and tranquility, we formed a small circle around the lanterns.

Monks release lanterns in Loy Krathong Festival

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Monks pray in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai
Prepare Release lanterns in Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai

 

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A woman pray before release the lantern in Loy Krathong Festival

“One, two, three!” says the narrator. Following the instruction, the entire audience cast thousands of khom loy adrift at the same moment. People cheered and shouted with delight. For the first time, we were taken aback by the fluttering flickering lanterns that carried people’s wishes and dreams. I kept staring up at the soaring sparkling floats and bright fireworks, wondering when I would be able to enjoy this ambiance again.

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Monks pray in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai
Monks pray in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai

 

Monks pray in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai
Monks release lanterns in Loy Krathong Festival

 

Monks pray in Loy Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai
Monks release lanterns in Loy Krathong Festival

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Monks release lanterns in Loy Krathong Festival
Thousands, and thousands of lanterns release in the sky

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Loy Krathong festival

Realeas lanterns in Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai
Realeas lanterns in Krathong Festival, Chiang Mai

The Light on Sacred Water

We saw the floats released in rivers and waterways a week later, towards the end of Loy Krathong. Chiang Mai’s historic district is only accessible by foot. With the firing of fireworks, we felt as though we were celebrating Tet in Vietnam. On the Ping River, the banana-leaf floats look like long chains of hundreds of brilliant lights. The krathong is adorned with fresh flowers, candles, and incense sticks at twilight. The float is then carried to a body of water, when the candle and incense sticks are lighted and the krathong is released.

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Although the political situation is in turmoil, people here enjoy a peaceful life. Coming to this place, the land of happiness in the middle of November, you can join in on this exotic festival.

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A woman pray in Loy Krathong Festival
A woman pray in Loy Krathong Festival

 

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Loy Krathong festival

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Further information

Loy Krathong 2017 date

The Loi Krathong Festival is celebrated nationwide. The dates depend on the moon calendar. In 2017 the dates are November 2-4. The full moon day is November 3. The festival is one of the most spectacular in Thailand. Chiang Mai is a great place to experience the Loy Krathong Festival.

Please note: Below program is based on programs of the past years. A final program and more detailed will be published later in 2017. We will keep you updated.

Thursday, November 2, 2017
1830 to 1900 – Opening Ceremony “2016 Chiang Mai Yi Peng Festival” – Location: Thapae Gate
1900 – 2300 – The Lantern Procession Contest (for The Royal Trophy) – Location: Thapae Gate to Chiang Mai Municipality

Friday November 3 (Full Moon), 2017
0809 – 1030 – Worshiping Ritual to House of Spirits, White Pagoda and Ping River – Location: Chiang Mai Municipal Building and Srikhong Temple’s pier
0900 – 1700 – Handmade Krathong Contest – Location: Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
1900 – 2300 – Continuity floating ritual of tiny candlelit Krathong (Krathong Sai)
1900 – 2300 – The Small Krathong Procession Contest (for The Royal Trophy) – Location: Thapae Gate to Chiang Mai Municipality

Saturday November 4, 2017
1900 – 2300 – The Grand Krathong Procession Contest (for The Royal Trophy) – Location: Thapae Gate to Chiang Mai Municipality

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