I had better start with a “what is Loi Krathing” for those of you new to the Thai festival scene. There are two parts to the displays that form the celebrations on this night, the floating boats and the sky lanterns. These are as a result of there being two festivals combined into one. These words are taken from Wikipedia:
Loi Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the Western calendar this usually falls in November.
According to the Royal Institute Dictionary 1999, loi (ลอย) means “to float”, while krathong (กระทง) has various meanings, one of which is “a basket to be floated on water in the Loi Krathong festival”. Several translations of krathong are found, such as “floating crown”, “floating boat”, “floating decoration”. The traditional krathong are made from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant. Modern krathongs are more often made of bread or Styrofoam. A bread krathong will disintegrate after a few days and can be eaten by fish. Banana stalk krathong are also biodegradable, but Styrofoam krathongs are sometimes banned, as they pollute the rivers and may take years to decompose. A krathong is decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, incense sticks, and a candle. A small coin is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirits.
This festival is usually combined with Yi Peng:
Loi Krathong coincides with the Lanna (northern Thai) festival known as Yi Peng (Thai: ยี่เป็ง). Yi means “two” and peng means a “full moon day”. Yi Peng refers to the full moon day in the second month according to the Lanna lunar calendar (the twelfth month according to the Thai lunar calendar).
Swarms of Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom loi (Thai: โคมลอย), literally: “floating lanterns”) are launched into the air where they resemble large shoals of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating through the sky. The festival is meant as a time for tham bun (Thai: ทำบุญ), to make merit. Khom loi are made from a thin fabric, such as rice paper, stretched over a bamboo or wire frame, to which a candle or fuel cell is attached. When the fuel cell is lit, the resulting hot air is trapped inside the lantern and creates enough lift for the khom loi to float up into the sky.
Lots of information HERE, which is Chiang Mai orientated because of the size of the celebrations there.
This is my third Loi Krathong in Thailand. I am sure that I will get used to them but so far they are still in the category of a “look forward to” event. Each one has been very different, which has helped maintain interest too. My first was in Chiang Mai, one of the biggest in Thailand, which you can read about HERE. The second happened just after we moved to Isaan. It was the total opposite of Chiang Mai. A small family event based around the local temple’s pond.
This year we decided to split the difference size-wise and visit Nong Bua Lamphu, our nearest larger town, which is based around a good sized lake. It puts on a big party for the event and this event is one neither Gaun nor Peng, my stepdaughter, have seen before. This year was also different from the last in that despite the fact Gaun and I had got married in the morning (HERE), Gaun decided that she’d make her own krathong for the event rather than buy. 60 THB saved!
Nong Bua Lamphu is about a 30 minute drive from us and the party was set up at the Northern end of the lake in the unlikely event you need to know! Next to Highway 210 from Udon Thani. Any festival in Thailand involves food, stalls selling all sorts of things most of which you don’t want or need and music but the floating of our krathong was the first thing on the agenda.
If you weren’t into making your own krathong then there were heaps of options available to buy from a cheap 20 THB (A$0.80) up to the expensive ones at 40 THB 🙂
Food, food and more food of course. We had takeaway BBQ pork sticks with sticky rice. Yummy – 10 THB per stick and 5 THB for a serving of rice. The evening out cost 115 THB including two bottles of water (A$4.60) for three people. Oh I had an ice cream 10 THB!
Dinner out of the way we then bought a lantern and joined the many other people by the side of the lake lighting theirs and sending them into the sky .
The success of a successful lift-off is reflected in these photos. Click on the first one to
It was then back to the market stalls to see what was on offer.
Back home Gaun was motivated to light up around our pond and float a krathong Peng had made, with a lot of help from her mum!
Thanks for reading