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Loi Krathong

 

On the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month (usually in November), the tide in the rivers is highest and the moon at its brightest, creating a romantic setting ideal for lovers. The Thai people choose this day to hold the 'Loy Kratong' festival, or the 'festival of light.' Loy Kratong is one of the two most recognized festivals in the country. 

Loy Kratong is probably the most picturesque and beautiful of all Thai celebrations. 'Loy' literally means 'to float,' while 'kratong' refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle which can float on the water. Originally, the kratong was made of banana leaves or the layers of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant. A kratong contains food, betel nuts, flowers, joss sticks, candle and coins. The making of a kratong is much more creative these days as many more materials are available. 

The Loy Kratong ritual is a simple one. One needs only to light the candles and the joss sticks, make one's wishes and let it float away with the current of a river or a canal.

On that day, thousands of people will gather beside the canals and rivers. With kratong in hands, they light the candle, put some coins in the kratong and silently make a wish, and carefully place their kratongs in the water and release them to the current. 

They watch intently as the float drifts silently downstream, hoping that the candle will not go out. Its flame is said to signify longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins. Altogether it is considered a romantic night for couples or lovers. Couples who make a wish together on Loy Kratong are thought to stay together in the future.

Where to celebrate 

Although celebrated nationwide, Loy Kratong is particularly delightful in the provinces of Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Hua Hin and Bangkok. 

As the place of origin of the festival, Sukhothai rightly remains the focal point of the celebrations. The festival comes with a spectacular light-and-sound show held in the ancient and traditional setting of the Sukhothai historical park. 

Chiang Mai is another prime site to celebrate Loy Kratong. The festival is known in northern dialect as 'Yi Peng.' The largest kratongs are decorated floats, paraded through the town on trucks. The colorfully lit floats form a long glittering parade as they make their way to the river. 

Meanwhile, up above thousands of 'khom loy' (floating lanterns) drift into the night sky. These large balloon-like lanterns are released at temples and sometimes from private homes in the hope that misfortune flies away with them. 

The Chao Phraya River is one of the main waterways to celebrate the Loy Kratong festival. In Bangkok, riverside hotels organize special celebrations for their guests. In some hotels, swimming pools are turned into a temporary river for the Loy Kratong celebration. 

Hua Hin is for sure the nicest place to celebrate Loy Kratong on the sea. It is really a wonderful place to go on the beach with an exceptional climate too.