Sunday, November 17, 2013

Loi Krathong

Loi Krathong is celebrated on the night of the full moon of the 12th lunar month (November 17th this year).  What is Loi Krathong you might ask…..

The explanation that I have heard most often is, "To ask for forgiveness Pra Mae Khongkha because we use and drink water and pollute it as well."  Ironically, part of the celebration involves floating Krathongs in the water which is really kind of polluting it again!

Loi Krathong is celebrated differently in different parts of Thailand.  Bangkok and Chiang Mai have the biggest celebrations with boat races, floats, and beauty contests.  In Ubon Ratchathani, there seemed to be a lot going on at the temples, but the highlights would be the Krathongs and sky lanterns.

Made of wax!


Krathongs can be made, if you're industrious, or bought along the sides of roads surrounding any body of water.  The base is a slice from the trunk of a banana tree.  Circles are cut from banana leaves to cover the top and bottom of the slice, and a strip of the leaf is used to surround the edges.  That's when the fun and creativity begins!

Squares of banana leaves are folded in a huge variety of ways and pinned to the base.  There are so many variations, you simply have to see them.  Three incense sticks are pushed into the middle as well as a candle (banana wood is very soft.) The finishing touch is the use of flowers to decorate your Krathong.

With Krathong in hand, it is taken to a body of water, a wish is made,  and it is gently placed to float away.  If the Krathong drifts back to you, your wish will not come true.  If it floats away….
The wind was strong last night, so we took no chances.  Our hosts took us out to the middle of the river, greatly improving our chances of success!

My favorite part is the sky lanterns!  The lanterns are made of paper and are about 3-4 feet tall.  Dried banana trunk (yes, again) is attached to the bottom and burned.  The heat from the fire helps lift the lantern into the air to float away.  I hate to admit that I ever watched "The Bachelorette", but if you saw the episode when they were in Phuket and released a lantern, they made it look simple.  It really isn't quite as easy as one might think, especially with a good breeze going.  However, I was able to get lift off!  (a wish was made with this too)

It's absolutely breathtaking to see the sky filled with sky lanterns, drifting away.

We were treated to a lovely evening with food, wine, boat rides, and sky lanterns by our hosts at the Moon Resort.

If you want more information and directions how to make your own Krathongs, this link will take you to a video of three teenaged Thai girls explaining the tradition...

Next year, when Diana and Ralph are here to celebrate with me, I hope to be in Chiang Mai….. you can see the difference!