festival afloat in thailand
In an unusual religious twist, the 12th month of the Hindu Brahmin lunar calendar heralds a time of celebration in Thai Buddhist culture. Although its roots lie in India’s Diwali ritual, the practice has evolved over time to become the Thai’s annual festival of Loy Krathong.
Every year, under the glow of the full moon, Thai people carefully place lights, flickering candles and ornate lanterns on lotus and swan-shaped krathongs (floats or rafts), and release them in the canals of Bangkok. These beautiful offerings to the Thai Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha, drift throughout Bangkok’s waterways evoking an extraordinary atmosphere in this usually chaotic city.
Spectacular fireworks are also sure to crackle their way through the capital’s labyrinth of roads and alleys, as the locals wash their sins away with laughter, devotion and delicious street stall cuisine.
In recent years Loy Krathong celebrations have tried to go green, because you can imagine the water pollution problem created by hundreds of thousands of polystyrene rafts, that instead of symbolising new life are choking it! Now the krathongs of choice are made of bread and it’s a win-win for the fish plus a much more environmentally-friendly way to honour the Goddess of Water.
In 2012, Loy Krathong lands on Wednesday, 28 November. It’s celebrated throughout the country and the most popular places to witness the festivities include Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Intrepid Travel offers many different adventures in Thailand on this day, which will ensure that you get to experience this fabulous floating festival… just as the locals do!
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* photo by Kay Clay – Intrepid Photography Competition