Loy Krathong is an important holiday celebrated across Thailand. It occurs during the full moon of the 12th lunar cycle. This year, it fell on November 17th.“Loy” means “to float” while “Krathong” refers to a lotus shaped vessel made from a banana tree trunk and banana leaves and decorated with flowers, joss-sticks, a candle, and sometimes coins. I had the pleasure of learning how to construct these from the kids at my school. Their folding and pinning skills were astonishing for how young many of them are! My kindergarten student had to show me how to fold and cut a banana leave 3-4 times before I was able to duplicate the technique.
While passing through town I noticed many Krathongs for sale. They were more beautiful and more masterfully made than mine but creating my own provided a much more rich cultural experience as well as a bonding experience with the kiddos.
The main event happens at sun down. The candle and joss-sticks on your Krathong are lit just before you release it on a pond or river. The action symbolizes releasing any bad luck and sending away your sins in order to start the new year with a clean slate. It is also an offering to the river goddess in thanks of the water she has provided.
As far as I know, most towns have some sort of celebration in town which includes a beauty contest. I was unable to attend the celebration in my town because I didn’t know it was happening and I didn’t have transportation. Since we didn’t have a river or pond close by, my friend Gor who manages the resort I live at took me down to the beach with her grandmother to release our Krathongs into the ocean. We had a laugh when both of ours flipped over once the first wave hit them. All in all it was still plenty of fun and a great way to bond with the people on this fun holiday.