Loi Krathong Highlights and Event venuesAs the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (usually in mid-November) lights up the night sky, throughout the Thai kingdom, hundreds of thousands of ornately-decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats are set adrift in rivers and waterways in a spell-binding ritual called "Loi Krathong" - the 'festival of lights". This is one of the Kingdom's oldest and best-preserved traditions.
The Loi Krathong tradition we know of today has evolved from the royal rituals of the early Rattanakosin period in which several types of lanterns were set afloat in the Chao Phraya River and its waterways.
The Royal Rattanakosin Loi Krathong FestivalDuring the early Rattanakosin period, the royal rituals of Jong Priang, Lote Choot, Loi Khome Long Nam, performed during the twelfth lunar month were based on Brahmin beliefs. These were the court versions of Loi Krathong performed as an act of worship in which the Devaraja or ‘God Kings’ made offerings of light to the Brahmin deities. Lit lanterns were hoisted on to poles for two weeks during the twelfth lunar month and then floated on the waterways as ritual offerings. From its Brahmin roots, the practice has evolved over time and has come to be part of a Buddhist ritual performed as an act of deep reverence and worship of the sacred relics and holy footprints of Lord Buddha.
The practice was subsequently adopted and adapted by common folk. Krathong floats are made from basic materials easily found around the village and reflect the simplicity of life beyond the palace walls. They typically take the shape of lotus in full bloom, swans, chedis (stupas), and Mount Meru from Buddhist mythology. However krathong floats in the shape of lotus blossoms are most popular.
At dusk, as the full moon begins to rise, the krathong is decorated with fresh flowers and the candles and incense sticks are placed in the krathong. The float is then taken to a waterway where the candle and incense sticks are lit and the krathong set adrift. The floats are carried downstream by the gentle current, candlelight flickering in the wind.
Soon after, attention turns to celebration. The evening's festivities consist of impressive firework displays, folk entertainment, stage dramas, song and dance. Scenes as described in ancient Thai literary accounts are still very much in existence today.
Krathong floats in the shape of lotus blossoms are most popular and are made from materials easily found in each locality. Loi Krathong customs and traditions reflect local beliefs and cultural evolution and interesting regional variations can be seen.
Loi Krathong Sai on the Ping RiverNight of A Thousand Floating LanternsIn Tak province, the banana-leaf floats are replaced by coconut shells which are threaded together and launched simultaneously so they appear as long chains of hundreds of glittering lights on the Ping River, hence the origin of its name, "Loi Krathong Sai".
Yi-Peng Festival in Northern ThailandIn the Northern Thai provinces that were once part of the ancient Lanna Thai kingdom, the Yi-peng Northern Lantern Festival is still being celebrated. Tubular lanterns, resembling hot air balloons, are lit and released into the night sky as an offering the Lord Buddha. As hundreds of illuminated lanterns drift into infinity, this conjures the same sense of wistful closure as the krathong float downstream.
The lighting of fireworks is undertaken in the same spirit as when lighting candles in an act of worship so fireworks displays are very much an integral element of the secular and religious rituals performed.
The Origins of Loi Krathong There are various accounts about the origins of Loi Krathong. However given the river-based culture that forms the foundation of the traditional Thai way of life, it is widely believed that these are offerings made to Mae Khongkha - Mother of Waters in an act of appeasement. Many also believe that by setting adrift the krathong, one symbollically casts away one's grief, misery and ill-fortunes. Coins are also placed in the krathong as offerings. For the romantic at heart and young couples, Loi Krathong is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love.
HIGHLIGHTS AND EVENT VENUES
The Royal Rattanakosin Loi Krathong Festival Splendour on the RiverNovember 21 – 24, 2007, 18.30 – 21.30 hrs The plaza in front of the Royal Thai Navy Convention Hall offers the best vantage point to view the Illuminated Boat Procession, celebrating the auspicious occasion of His Majesty’s the King 80th birthdayTickets: 999 baht per person For enquiries and reservations, please call +66 (0) 2250 5500 Ext. 2115-9
Illuminated Boats ProcessionNovember 21 – 24, 2007Along the banks of the Chao Phraya River (Taksin Bridge – Krungthon Bridge)
“Loi Prateep” Illuminated Boats ProcessionThe "Loi Prateep" royal ritual was performed in the royal court on the night of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month. The ritual begins with the king making offerings of rice, followed by Buddhist sermons being held in the Grand Palace. The king then placed floral offerings at the "ubosoth" (chapel) of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram, and the "Ho Phra" scripture hall of the Grand Palace, before setting off to Ratchaworadit Pier to float the giant krathongs. The other notable aspect of Loi Prateep is its water-borne procession consisting of an impressive fleet of no less than five hundred illuminated vessels, each with two lit candles and an incense stick, being carried down-stream.Two royal ceremonial barges serve as the State barges, the third carries a sacred Buddha image and the fourth carries other sacred and floral offerings. Other vessels consisted of escort boats, floating Thai orchestra, police boats, firework boats, and others. Traditional giant krathongs of various shapes were crafted from cylindrical drums or rafts of 4 to 4.5 metres wide and 5 to 5.5 metres high and embellished with ornaments made from a variety of materials found in the immediate vicinity of the residential area.
Sukhothai Loi Krathong and Candle Festival November 22 – 24, 2007 At the Sukhothai Historical Park, Sukhothai province
TAT Northern Office Region 3 Tel: +66 (0) 5525 2742-3, (0) 5525 9907 Fax: +66 (0) 5523 1063E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Loi Krathong Sai FestivalNight of A Thousand Floating LanternsNovember 23 – 27, 2007 At the Rattanakosin Bridge (Sapan Sompot Krung Rattanakosin 200-Year Bridge), Tak province
TAT Northern Office Region 4 Tel: +66 (0) 5551 4341-3Fax: +66 (0) 5551 4344E-mail: email@example.com
Yi-Peng Festival, Chiang Mai province November 23 – 25, 2007 At the following sites – Tha Pae Gate, along the banks of the Ping River, in front of the Chiang Mai Municipal Office
TAT Northern Office Region 1Tel: +66 (0) 5324 8604, (0) 5324 8607, (0) 5324 1466Fax: +66 (0) 5324 8605 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Loi Krathong Festival in the Ancient Capital of AyutthayaNovember 24, 2007In the four corners of the ancient capital of Ayutthaya – under the Pridi-Damrong Bridge, Pompetch Fortress, in front of Chandrakasem National Museum, and in front of Sisuriyothai Chedi.
TAT Central Office Region 6 Tel: +66 (0) 3524 6076-7Fax: +66 (0) 3524 6078E-mail: email@example.com
Loi Krathong Tam Prathip November 23 – 24, 2007 Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, Bang Sai district, Ayutthaya provinceTel: (0) 3536 6091
More about Loi Krathong Hope FloatsPlease click to view IMPORTANTEvent dates and programme details may be subject to change.Many of the festivals and events listed on Thailand's official calendar of annual events are traditional Buddhist or folk festivals, the date of which is either determined by the Buddhist lunar calendar and waxing and waning moon. These are not staged events. The festivals reflect the rhythm of life in rural Thai villages and local traditions as observed in times past. To ensure you have the most updated information, please reconfirm details prior to travel. Contact:Tourism Authority of ThailandEmail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite: http://www.tat.or.th/Tel: +66 (0) 2250 5500 (120 automatic lines) Fax: +66 (0) 2250 5511 (two automatic lines)
FOR EVENT INFORMATION, please call 1672.
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