Loy Krathong – Festival of Light

Loy Krathong, which is referred to as the Festival of Lights is aptly named, as millions of candle flames are lit at night and floated down waterways. It gets its name from the Thai words, Loy (meaning to float) and Krathong (a small boat shaped receptacle made of banana plant, leaf or other floatable material). The Loy Krathong festival is celebrated annually according to the lunar calendar on the full moon night of the twelfth month (sometime in November).

Take a look at the video below for a better idea of what to expect from this amazing festival in Thailand.

It is by far one of the most beautiful and romantic festivals in Thailand. The ritual involves preparing a small bowl from a banana leaf or a spider lily plant, placing offerings such as betel nuts, flowers, coins and food, and then placing lit incense sticks and a candle on the boat, before making a wish and setting it afloat down a water body. Sometimes, Thai people cut off a bit of their hair or fingernails and place it on the floating bowl, as a symbolic gesture of letting go of past grudges. During Loy Krathong, locals gather near rivers and lakes that have a current to carry their boat away.

The festival has a magical quality about it as you can watch millions of flickering candle flames on small leaf bowls floating away into the horizon. Usually, a wish is made before a person sets their Krathong afloat, with the belief that it will come true if the flame does not die out. Hence, you will often find locals anxiously watching their boat until it disappears beyond their line of vision. For couples, it is a time when they make joint wishes and set the bowl afloat in the hope that they will stay together for eternity.

There are different stories about the origin of the Krathong festival. Hindus believe that it is a ritual for making an offering to the Lord Vishnu, who resides in the ocean, for providing water to the people. Buddhists believe that it is a way to pay respect to Buddha and also to ancestors. The festival is believed to have originated in the Sukkothai province of Thailand, centuries ago. Locals look at it as a ritual for praying for prosperity. Although the origin of the festival is not clear, Loy Krathong is widely celebrated all over Thailand.

In Pattaya, the Bali Hai pier is the main place to experience the magic of Loy Krathong, although you can feel the festive atmosphere throughout the city. You will see locals dressed in colourful traditional costumes and stalls selling Krathongs in various sizes decorated with flowers. The mood is festive with stages being set up along the beach where live performances by local bands provide the background music to the rituals. There is plenty of seating so that tourists and locals can sit back and watch as the floating flames fill the night scape. If you are at a resort near the beach, you can watch your own version of the festival, as many resorts have an event with music, stalls and food that capture the festive atmosphere in the city.

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