Loy Krathong 2015 – Wednesday 25th November
Loy Krathong is one of Thailand’s most beautiful festivals celebrated across the Kingdom.
Loy Krathong could be translated to mean “to float a basket”. The name comes from the tradition of making a Krathong, a buoyant decorated basket that are then floated on a river. It is also known as a “floating crown”, “floating boat” or “floating decoration”.
Traditionally the Krathong is made from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree or from a spider lily plant. More modern Krathong are made from bread or Styrofoam. Bread is environmentally friendly and will disintegrate in a few days and will be eaten by fish.
Banana Stalk Krathong are also biodegradable, but Styrofoam Krathong should not be used as they are polluting for the environment and take years to decompose.
A traditional Krathong is decorated with elaborately folded banana leaves, incense sticks and a small candle. A small value coin is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirts.
Loy Krathong takes place on the night of the 12th full moon in the traditional Thai Lunar Calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November. In 2015 it will be celebrated on the night of the 25th November.
On the night of the twelfth full moon, Thai’s launch their Krathong on a river, canal or pond, making a wish as they do so. The festival probably originates from an ancient ritual that pays respect to the water spirits.
In Pattaya you will also see people on the beach launching their Krathong into the sea as there are not so many nearby sources of water. In areas where people live by lakes, reservoirs and ponds you will definitely see the festival being celebrated.
The site of many Krathong lit up floating on the water is quite beautiful.
During the night of Loy Krathong it has also become very popular for Thai people to launch illuminated sky lanterns. These lanterns are traditionally made from a thin fabric, such as rice paper, stretched over a wooden bamboo or wire frame to which a candle or fuel cell is attached.
When the cell is lit the lantern is held until the air inside has heated up sufficiently to allow the lantern to fly, very much like a hot air balloon. These lanterns are known as “Khom Loi” and authorities in Thailand have officially banned their use as they can cause fires when they land, they pollute the environment and are a potential hazard for low flying aircraft.
All that aside, the site of a sky full of beautiful Sky Lanterns is rather mesmerizing!
The tradition of launching Khom Loi comes from the Lanna people of the North of Thailand. They have a festival, “Yi Peng”, which means “two full moon day” and this coincides with Loy Krathong. Yi Peng is celebrated on the second full moon of the Lanna Lunar Calendar, which is also the twelfth full moon according to the Thai Lunar Calendar.
One of the most spectacular sights is seeing the thousands of Sky Lanterns launched from Chiang Mai’s ancient walled city, which was once the capital of the Lanna kingdom.
In 2014 the Thai Government restricted the use of Sky Lantern’s and prohibited people from launching them from 6.00 p.m. on the day of Loy Krathong until
5.00 a.m. the next day. Anyone violating this new law could face execution, a life prison sentence or a lighter sentence of 5 to 10 years if damages caused by your lantern were minor!
Offenders are also guilty of violating Section 232 of the Criminal Code and that alone carries a sentence of 6 to 7 years in prison and a fine up to 1,000 to 14,000 baht! It would be a hard thing to prove if your lantern caused a plane to crash, but the bottom line is that the days of a lantern filled sky on Loy Krathong night could soon be over….