Loy Kratong Festival

loykatong.jpg

Comes the month of November … “November full moon shines,Loy kratong, loy kratong…Loy kratong is here, and everybody’s full of cheer….” go the lyrics of the Loy Kratong Song. This well-known song is resounding and heard more and more often on the radio, on TV, in entertainment places, in the streets, virtually everywhere in the country, as the Full Moon Loy Kratong Festival is approaching. This “Festival of Lights” takes place on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month, and is celebrated throughout the country – a much waited for joyful event for young people and children.

Loy Kratong is characterized by its various-sized, mostly rather small, beautiful floats made of cut banana trunks and leaves, decorated with colorful flowers, candles and incense sticks, set afloat in rivers, canals, and ponds, drifting with the ripples or inland breezes. “Loy” means to float away and “kratong” is the banana leaf vessel, a form of offering to the Goddess of Water. So the act of “loy kratong” symbolizes the asking for good luck and for forgiveness from the Goddess as well, for having polluted the waterways. Apart from the temporary sereneness on the faces of the wishers as they set afloat the kratongs and make their secret wishes, all around it is the festive atmosphere of joy, fun, and loud cheer.

Although not on the national holiday calendar, Loy Kratong is supposed to be the most popular festival among the Thais and foreign visitors alike, and celebrated in all the regions. It is celebrated even by the Thais living overseas. This major festival, one of the oldest and best preserved, has its origin dated back to the Sukhothai Period, some 750 years ago. The 12th month traditionally was a time of rest after the rice planting season and before the harvest time. Nice weather after the rains and the tide being at its highest – it was a perfect time to rejoice. These days the townspeople also celebrate. Special public events are organized at nightfall in places along the rivers and other waterways, and in big hotels across the country. The hightlights include cultural shows, folk dances, spectacular displays of lighted candles or flying lanterns, and fireworks, and eating sprees! And of course, the launching of the illuminated kratongs.

Everywhere water is brimming, almost overflowing its banks. The little kratongs are drifting, the ripples glittering, the candle lights flickering, and the full moon lighting up the sky up there against the background of darkness – Loy Kratong would continue to be popular, and to remind us of the glorious past and the rich cultural heritage we have treasured to these present days.