Loi Kratong in Thailand
A very beautiful festival Loi Kratong is held every year in Thailand (Photo: Piti Tan, Shutterstock)
The very beautiful Loy Kratong festival is held every year in Thailand on the night of the twelfth full moon. “Loi” translates to “floating,” “Kratong” to “boat (construction) of leaves.”
But in 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the festivities may be cancelled.
Long ago, back in the Middle Ages, in the Sukhothai era, during the reign of King Lithaya, his wife on one of the holidays built a huge-sized bowl of banana leaves and bamboo stems, lined it with cut fruit – and started a bright tradition: the art of joining together the wonder created by man, in gratitude to that which gives us life and strength in great veneration of the traditions of his people.
Traditionally, banana tree leaves are used to make such a boat. They are used to make kratongs of various sizes and types, sometimes more like miniature palaces, true works of art of Thai craftsmanship. They are on display for public viewing in crowded places in the city, while those who are “easier”, patiently awaiting their time in the homes of their creators.
In the evening, when the darkness of night envelops the city, people take their kratongs, go to the bank of the river or sea, enter shallow water, and release them to the wind and currents. Such a gesture symbolizes, above all, a tribute to and worship of Mother Water, the nurturer and protector of the people living on earth. Water provides food – the fish and animals that live in it; it fertilizes fields, enabling farmers to harvest rice and fruit; and it graciously carries people and goods, helping with trade. The grateful people give their kratongs to water, thanking her for all the gifts they have received.
But gratitude toward Mother Water is not the only reason people gather for this festival. In November, at the end of the rainy season, all rivers are usually overflowing with water and strong currents. Any object placed in a river full of power is instantly picked up by the swift waters and carried far away, to a place where the eyes of the person who let it go can no longer discern its messenger. That is why many people, having cut off a small lock of their hair for sure, put it into their kratong and send it on a long journey together with all their troubles and troubles, problems and sorrows, so that they disappear from view.
. one by one the bright stars soar off the ground, joining in flocks and floating to the horizon. (Photo: adisornfoto, Shutterstock)
The festival of Loi Kratong, the day of the full moon in November, is a celebration of the spirit of water and light. And, indeed, there is much light on this night. The entire Gulf of Thailand is ablaze with flickering candles, symbolizing the souls of the ancestors; they merge into one bright, exciting sea – a sea of gratitude to water and light for giving life to people. And the Thais also believe that the kratongs lowered into the water will unite the hearts of lovers in the next life, so this night, everyone shares the holiday with the dearest to heart people. And people on this night are united in their desire to be free and happy. The sky shudders with fireworks and fireworks, and the air fills with singing.
The song “Loi Kratong” is heard everywhere, and one by one bright stars soar from the ground, joining in flocks and floating to the horizon. These are large balloons made of the finest tissue paper, filled with hot air and cherished wishes. Thais believe in the fulfillment of wishes. Perhaps that’s why, before unclasping their hands and releasing the balloon, the couples pause for a moment, silent, saying to themselves their cherished dream, and then staring into the night sky, watching their balloon, their dream, their star with thoughtful eyes for a long time.
It is strange, this night hundreds, thousands of such balloons float in the sky, but your eyes unmistakably and easily find their own, and it is a little sad that soon everything will merge into one bright ribbon on the horizon and dissolve in a transparent haze, and you do not fly after your dream, but you wake up with an extraordinary ease and love in your soul.
Loi Kratong holiday, what to see, traditions
Loi Kratong is a holiday in Thailand, held during the twelfth full moon, November 21, 2018. The name translates as “floating boat” – “Loi” – “floating”, “Kratong” – “boat (construction) of leaves”.
Night of Wonders and Magic
The timing of the holiday Loi Kratong, is directly related to the Thai lunar calendar. It is worth recalling that its difference from the traditional European is a slight discrepancy of months – thus, habitual for the European or Russian-speaking residents of the CIS sixth in June corresponds to the same in May in the lunar calendar of Thais – “thantharakhati. This is due to the fact that the inhabitants of Thailand and Phuket “tied” their major holidays to the phases of the moon, and the festival Loi Kratong held on the night when the sky is lit up full of moon for the last time in the lunar calendar.
Typically this glorious event is held in November but sometimes the Loi Kratong Festival in Phuket is held in late October. Preparations for this festival begin long before the full moon lights up the sky, heralding the arrival of the new lunar year. After the shortened working day, Thais are massively prepared for the festive processions, on the fantastic night of Loi Kratong completely filling up the small streets and the huge main highways of cities and towns.
The end point of the incredible beauty of the columns, outfitted by the Thais themselves, and the whole teams of large commercial organizations, are the reservoirs – mainly scattered throughout Thailand, the rivers. In its beauty and attractiveness, these parades can compete for the title of “most colorful” with the colorful and world-famous Brazilian festivals.
Launching of the Kratongs
The key action of the Loi Kratong holiday in Phuket, as well as in the whole of Thailand, is the launching of small boats, taking away all the trouble. The first part of the name – “Loi”, means “to float, slide on the surface of the water”, while the “Kratong” itself – made from a slice of palm tree trunk structure, externally resembling a small boat. It is decorated with leaves of trees, abundantly covering the territory of the island of Phuket, as well as flowers. Decorating boats with paper decorations is highly discouraged – thus causing considerable damage to the environment, while the essence of the holiday – to propitiate the Great God Buddha, millennia ago left the imprint of his foot – Gottama, on the banks of the Indian river called Nam Tha Nathi, still carrying its clear waters on the lands of modern India.
After the boat is decorated, three incense sticks and two small candles are placed in it. Resembling the shape of a small opening lotus bud, the kratong represents, according to Buddhist mythology, the openness of the soul and sincerity of the person who made it.
Before setting off on the water, the owner of this extraordinarily beautiful “bud” should kneel by the pond to worship the water spirit of Phra Maekong Kha, and, putting the “kratong” on his forehead in a respectful ritual “wai”, ask him to take away all the troubles and bad luck. Candles and incense must be lit before performing this ritual, and some Thai people additionally place in the “bud” a cut of their hair or fingernails. So, in their opinion, the spirit of water has a better chance to take away the accumulated during the year misfortunes of the sender.
Getting rid of bad luck
If you have planned your vacation in late fall or early winter – is worth thinking about participating in a magical holiday Loi Kratong in Phuket to send the waters of a river of his own “boat”, disposing of failures. If during your vacation there is no river nearby, do not despair – to send a “loi” his “Kratong” can be in any body of water – a lake or even a pool. The main thing is not to forget to put in a coin of 1, 2 or 5 baht.
Before the trip is worth taking care of booking accommodation in hotels and hotels in Phuket, because to see the lights floating on the water during the full moon, as well as take off the next day throughout the territory of Thailand every year a huge number of tourists come. Including from Russia and neighboring countries.