The lantern is a symbol of hopes, dreams, prosperity and happiness for many Asians. In the Loi Krathong Festival in Thailand, lanterns are important. Loy Krathong is derived from the word loy, which means “float”, and krathong, which means “small basket” or “container.” Loi Krathong is an expression of thanks to the god of water, Phra Mae Khongkha whom the Thai people believe gives life. The festival is also to apologize for damage they have done to the waters.
During this celebration, the people float krathong made of banana leaves decorated with flowers, candles and incense sticks along the rivers, lakes, and oceans. Before floating krathong, Thai people bring their krathong to the temple for a ceremony mantra recitation by Bhikkhu (Buddhist Sami). In the ceremony, the monks bless the krathong. When the ceremony ends, the people go to rivers, lakes, and coastal areas to float their krathong. The festival is held on the full moon night of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, but the exact date of the festival changes every year. In the Western calendar, Loi Krathong usually falls in the month of November. In 2016, the festival will be on November 15. Thai Buddhists believe that the Loy Krathong carry all the sins, grievances and angst of the person who floats it, thereby offering an opportunity to begin a new life in a much better manner.
Loi Krathong lasts for three days, coinciding with the Yi Peng festival, which is a festival to release floating lanterns called Khom Loi. The lantern is made of thin paper, with a small flame inside it. The purpose of releasing the lanterns is to carry away troubles and bad luck, and release from all bad things.
Loi Krathong and Yi Peng is a festival of lanterns that have the same religious meaning, but were originally celebrated in different areas of Thailand. Yi ping is more apt to be celebrated inland, in the mountains, while Loi Krathong is celebrated in coastal areas, near lakes, rivers.
Loi Krathong was first performed in the Sukhothai era and known as Phra Pra Teip or Loi Khom (floating lanterns). The Loi Krathong festival is now celebrated with a decorative boat parade, beauty queen contest, krathong decorating contest, and food bazaar throughout Thailand. The Thai government also asks people to use environmentally friendly materials for the krathong, so that the river will not polluted with waste. Loi Krathong also aims to attract tourists from around the world.
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