Loi Krathong is a popular festival that takes place on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, which is November. The week leading up to November 6th, all of the Thai teachers were singing the Loy Krathong song in English for their students to learn. Up and down the halls you could hear choruses of:
November full moon shines
and the water’s high
in the river and local klong,
Loi Loi Krathong
Loi Loi Krathong
Loi Krathong is here
and everybody’s full of cheer,
We’re together at the klong
Each one with his krathong,
As we push away we pray
We can see a better day.
The offices were alight with the activity of people making their own Krathongs and those to sell to students and other teachers. I was invited to make a krathong; which was an amazing creative opportunity. Making a krathong requires very few supplies and a hint of imagination to create.
- It begins with a section of banana tree trunk, roughly 2” thick, but can be thicker as long as it will float. Some krathongs are made with a Styrofoam base, but the tree trunks are a much greener choice.
- Next, a banana leaves is cut into the same circumference as the base of the tree trunk. This is attached to the top by tacks or nails.
- A strip the thickness of the tree section is cut and wrapped around the side of the float and pinned.
- Banana leaves are then ripped or cut into long strips about 3 or 4” wide and folded in various manners and nailed, or stapled in patterns around the krathong.
- Lastly, the krathong is adorned with flowers, candles, and incense.
That evening, we made our way to Nampang (which means lake in Thai) and joined the festivities. There were plenty of food cart venders, loud Thai music and even a beauty pageant that took place downtown. All along the streets were people selling their handmade krathongs and floating lanterns. We made our way to the waters edge to set off our own krathongs with those of the community. All the way around the lake were lamps to allow people to light their incense and candles on their krathongs to then be released into the water. It was quite a sight to see the bountiful number of krathongs floating away from the waters edge following the slight current in the water.
The key aspect to Loy Krathong is the releasing of the krathong in the water. It is pay respect to the Goddess of Water and to ask forgiveness for copious use and subsequent pollution of the water. Floating away the krathong is also a symbolic means to release bad things or misfortunes and to ask for good luck. So, on one of these lamps we each lit our krathongs in turn. After a small prayer, we left our krathongs to drift away amongst the prayers of many others.
In addition, we even had the opportunity to light floating lanterns. For these, a small starter is lit at the bottom and then the lantern is held until it fills with hot air. After a few minutes, and a delicate push, the lanterns will float way into the sky. It was quite a lovely festival that I’m happy to have had the chance to take part in.