Loy Krathong Festival
Loy Krathong in Phuket on November 25, 2015
Thailand, is a spectacular place where magic and mystery can be found in many places. If you are here in November, this magic flourishes and there is one evening during the month that a truly mystical experience, can be had. On this particular night, on nearly every expanse of water, be it a river, lake or the ocean, you'll notice thousands of lights. Drifting across the water like fairy dreams. Gently flickering, dipping and dancing in the breeze as they go, making a spectacular sight.
This is Loi Krathong, Thailand's 'festival of lights'. Held yearly, on the evening of the twelfth lunar month, it is the time of year when the waters around the country become alive with candlelight and look not unlike massive fairy ballrooms. When staying in a coastal area, you can see these 'ballrooms' extending for miles out to sea. In fact, sailors, making their way towards the likes of Phuket, have reported seeing them close to the Similan Islands and beyond. See Event Calendar.
A Festival Not to Be Missed
This festival, falls in the 'not to be missed' category and if you believe in luck, joining in, is a 'must do'. It's also one of those celebrations that children absolutely adore and will certainly be one of their fondest memories of their visit to this part of the world.
If you happen to be holidaying in Phuket, one of the more popular festival venues, when this enchanting festival occurs, you might just have a better chance of a luck filled future. Phuket's west coast beaches generally have an off-shore breeze blowing at this time of year, which will help give your wishes a boost. How good your fortune will be, is up to you and the tides or currents during the festivities. There is one simple way to ensure that at least a little of the festival's blessing comes your way, however.
How to Partake in the Festival
In the hours preceding sunset, you'll notice many makeshift stalls selling 'krathongs' along the streets of Phuket. Buy one…or better still, buy (or make) one, for each person in your holiday party. These flower covered min-floats, complete with candles and incense sticks, often resembling lotus flowers, are an essential part in promoting good fortune during the festival.
As the sun dips below the horizon and the full moon begins to hover in the night sky, take your krathong to the nearest beach, lake or similar watery area and release it with the outgoing tide or current. The belief being, that if the krathong floats away from you, the coming year will bring good fortune, if it floats back towards the shore, then perhaps your luck may not be quite as you had wished.
How to Ensuring Good Fortune Comes Your Way
On releasing the kratong, you can help your fortunes along a little by placing personal items on the floating platform. Some put nail clippings or strands of hair into the krathong, in the belief that the sins of the past year will be washed away; coins too are often placed inside as a way of making merit. For the romantic at heart and young couples, Loi Krathong is the time to make a wish for happiness together and success in love.
The Origins of Loy Krathong
A festival of quiet celebration, the origins of Loy Kratong are unclear, but it is believed that it started in Sukhothai, (north of Bangkok) one of the most powerful cities in Asia, around 800 years ago.
Made from the cellulose trunk of a banana tree, the idea behind the kratongs is to put all your misfortunes in a boat, and allow them to literally float away. ("Loy"- to float, and "krathong" - a leaf cup or bowl) Great care is taken to decorate the kratongs with flowers and banana leaves, leaving room for the candles and 3 sticks of incense.
Loy Krathong always falls on Thai school holidays, so during the day the whole family are often involved in making elaborately decorated Kratongs. Some coins, a lock of hair, or nail clipping are placed inside to represent the owner before the kratong is launched on a river, canal, or the sea, accompanied by a prayer.
It's believed the "boat" will carry your bad luck into the distance, and enable a better start to the following year. Loy Kratong is a big night for lovers. Couples who make a wish together on this day will enjoy long-lasting love, especially if their kratongs remain together on the water.
While Loy Kratong is not strictly a religious festival, some Thais believe that it pays homage to the water goddess, Mae Khongkha. Whatever the significance, it's a magical "not-to-be-missed" event.
Where to Enjoy Loy Krathong?
Loy Krathong is celebrated nationwide. In Phuket, major hotels usually host a special evening so that guests can join in.
Guests usually set the kratongs on the sea - a delightful scene as thousands of candlelit kratongs bob on the waves. In places like Patong, little boys will volunteer for a small fee to carry your kratong out a little further for a more auspicious start.
All of Phuket's major west coast beaches take part in Loy Kratong festivities, with a mix of locals and tourists. Nai Harn Lake and Patong Beach usually have the most activity with locals visiting beaches like Kata and Karon.
Two sites in Phuket Town: Saphan Hin Park and Suan Luang (King Rama IX) Park, are also popular places for locals to celebrate. Expect big crowds at both of these locations.