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The Loi Krathong festival

November 22, 2010

Thailand has many upcoming celebrations: in November there is Loi Krathong, in December New Year, in February is the Chinese New Year and in April is the Thai New Year.

The Loi Krathong which has been celebrated for a few days had its peak yesterday, but goes on today as well.

The ritual includes making a floating (Loi) krathong, usually a slice of banana pseudostem decorated with banana leaf, orchids, chrysanthemums and at Dokmai Garden also orange flowers of Mucuna bennetti, yellow flowers of Michelia champaca, golden leaves of star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito) and purple flowers of Gomphrena globosa. The krathongs usually contain incense and candles too, and sometimes pieces of hair and/or nails. Before placing the krathong in the water, a prayer is made to various deities and spirits, including the river Goddess Phra Mae Khongkha (revered mother Kongkha). Some people ask the river goddess of forgiveness if they have polluted her river. By adding hairs and nails, badness is believed to disappear with the krathong.

According to legend, this festival was initiated by Noppamas, a consort of king Loethai of Sukhothai (which later became Siam and finally Thailand).

Here in Chiang Mai the celebrations differ from the rest of Thailand, as Loi Kratong coincides with the Lanna ‘Yi Peng festival’ (Lanna with the capital Chiang Mai was a different kingdom until 1899 when it was united with Siam). This festival is celebrated by launching hot air balloons made of paper. This is a way to pay merit, i.e. a good act resulting in being reborn in a happier life.

Welcome to Chiang Mai!

Ketsanee Seehamongkol

Krathong making at Dokmai Garden. Ben and George (‘Lads from Leeds’ joining our Tropical Garden School), Nived, Pattaramol and Ketsanee. To the lower left two krathongs made of bread, to feed the fish.

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