LOY KRATHONG is one of Thailand’s most endearing and beautiful festivals.
Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar; hence, the exact date of the festival changes every year.
In the Western calendar this usually falls in the month of November. In 2017 it was celebrated on November 3; this year it will be on November 22-23.
The Origin of Loy Krathong
The origin of Loy Krathong is unclear, but it is widely believed to have originated in the ancient Thai capital of Sukhothai during the 13th century.
The festival may have Brahmanical origins and then adapted by Thai Buddhists to honour Buddha but over the years has developed and evolved, it is also believed that the tradition pays homage to the water goddess, Phra Mae Khongkha (Mother of Waters) and the krathongs are offerings to her.
The beauty contests that accompany the festival are known as ‘Nopphamat Queen Contests.’
According to legend, Nang Nopphamat was a consort of the 13th century Sukhothai King Sri Indraditya (who is also known as Phra Ruang) and she had been the first to float a decorated raft. However, this is a new story which was invented during the first part of the 19th century.
What does it signify?
The word loy (or loi) means to float, while a krathong is a small raft or basket, traditionally made from banana leaves or the bark of a banana tree. A krathong usually contains a candle, incense and flowers.
The person who will be floating the krathong will often take a small clipping of their hair or a fingernail which will then be added to the krathong together with some coins. The candle and incense are then lit and a wish is made before the krathong is placed in water. It is believed that the krathong carries away bad luck and signals a fresh start.