Weeks have passed since Loy Krathong was celebrated here in Thailand. But this celebration is something very special and something worth telling the world about. Let me get the photographs to do most of the talking. Cue the Canon!
November approached us with a shock. With the lack of seasons here in Thailand, it is hard to remember what month it is, let alone the time of year. I still get my jumpers lined up ready in hope that the temperature will suddenly drop and I will need to cocoon myself, or have an excuse to buy more jumpers. Yes, jumpers are on sale here in the thirty degree heat and it is a real tease for the world’s biggest big knit fan.
Loy Krathong typically falls at the beginning of November, or when there is a full moon. This year it fell on Friday 3rd November, just before Bonfire night. As we gazed outside our balcony doors at the sun setting, air conditioning on full blast, it was hard to imagine the heat that we were about to embrace outside. This feeling never really changes, even after eighteen months of living over here. While everyone at home was getting ready to get their chops stuck into toffee apples, I was changing into a summer frock and hydrating myself with water. We decided to walk to our local park to join in with the celebrations. Five minutes into our evening stroll we broke out into the usual sweat. What month is it again?
Before living in Thailand I did not know anything about Loy Krathong. Gosh, I didn’t even know how to pronounce it! Say “l-oi k-r-a-t-o-ng”. That’s how you say it. Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is the best place to go for this celebration. But, Bangkok has it’s place too. Most swarm to the Chao Phraya river that runs through Bangkok, but the main parks around Bangkok are also very popular. We went to Benjakitti park, which is right in the middle of the city and surrounded by sky scrapers. It also happens to be ten minutes away from our condo, which is very handy indeed. The photograph above is the main entrance to Benjakitti park alongside a very busy main road. Inside, you can forget the chaos of the steamy city and run or bike around the beautiful lake.
Tradition is rooted in asking for forgiveness from the Goddess of the river. Now Loy Krathong it is more widely seen as a way to wave goodbye to, or wash away, misfortune and make wishes for the coming year. What a lovely thing to embrace. “Loy” means to float and I’m sure that “Loy Krathong” can be translated as “floating banana trunk festival”. Banana trunk is commonly used for the krathong, but some types of bread are used too. Our kratongs were made from banana trunk and beautifully decorated with a little candle, incense and flowers. They cost fifty baht each and we bought them from outside the park. The pricier kratongs were decorated in the shape of hearts and swans!
Approaching the lake we remembered the one thing we forgot… a lighter. Standing at the waters edge, we looked desperately for westerners to ask for help. We also looked like idiots, neither one of us wanting to volunteer to be the ‘asker’. Good job it was dark. In the end, we borrowed one man’s lighter in exchange for taking photographs for him. What a deal (and I didn’t have to ask!)
Apparently if your krathong stays lit as it floats further and further away it is thought that you will have very good luck for the whole year. Ours went out nearly straight away, but I think we have already been very lucky over the last few years.
Families gathered together to light their kratongs. It was very special to be part of all walks of life gathering together amongst the lights of the city, the krathongs and the moon, celebrating something very important in this part of the world. The moon was so difficult to photograph, but let me reassure you that it was truly breathtaking. It was almost wedged between two skyscrapers and looked like a giant ball of perfectly rounded snow, just plonked in the curtain of the dark, blue sky.
Just before saying goodbye to our krathongs a little turtle swam up to us, along the side of the lake. He continued paddling along, meandering in and out of the banana trunks. Now this was a way to spend our Friday evening. Happy Loy Krathong!