The moon has risen above the horizon. It appears exceptionally bright, beautiful and full. Maybe it is just an illusion. People in Thailand and Thai people around the world are draping themselves in traditional finery carefully chosen just for this day.
Young couples perhaps are making their way to the nearest waterbody where Krathongs may be floated and make their wish. Many people congregated would be floating away their sins and miseries and hope for a better future for their families. While several others float the Krathongs symbolising letting go of anger, negative thoughts and hatred by placing their nail clipping or strands of hair. Most people just pray to the Goddess of water, Phra Mae Khongka. It means, Goddess Mother Ganga!, a surprise for my Indian friends. 😀
Loi Krathong is one of the most picturesque and most romantic festivals of Thailand, falling on the night of full moon of the 12th lunar month. People gather around lakes, rivers and canals to pay respects to the goddess of water by launching of the Krathong, (a container shaped like lotus blossom made of banana leaves containing a candle, incense sticks, flower and coins) into the water.
In Thailand the best celebrations may be witnessed in Sukhothai, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Tak.
Only a week back we had an opportunity to witness a mini Loi Krathong celebrations in Delhi organized by TAT. There were several demonstrations of Thai dances and Muay Thai, illustrating the richness of Thai culture. Just then the music turned soft and a beautiful woman dressed as a queen was carried on a palanquin to the water body, amidst chorus of Loi Krathong song, to be the first to float the biggest lotus shaped Krathong. She symbolised the queen of Sukhothai where, it is believed, these festivities first began. All of us followed her with our Krathongs and took turns to perform the ritual.
This festival falls on the same day as the Karthik Purnima, meaning the full moon day of the lunar month of Kartik. In many parts of India, the doors, balconies and terraces are decorated with rows of small oil lamps much like in Diwali. In fact this day is also called Deva Deepawali meaning Diwali of the Gods. Even in Thailand Loi Krathong is equated with Deepawali. Isn’t there a deep rooted connection between Loi Krathong and Karthik Poornima? Well, whatever may be the legend, we wish everyone a very Happy Loi Krathong!
Other festivals falling on the same day are Guru Parab, commemorating the birthday of Guru Nanak; Yi Peng in Northern Thai where the lanterns are floated in air; Bon Om Tuk or Cambodia Water festival; Karthigai in South India; I am sure to have missed a few here.
It does appear to be an important day in Asia. Happy festivities!
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