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Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand

Loi Krathong is probably one of the most meaningful and emotional festivals of the Thai Festival year.

Various provinces in Thailand have their own localised customs on how to celebrate this ancient festival, but the overriding theme is the same.

To float away one's worries and problems and therefore look to a better life in the future. It is not a selfish thought, for others can also be included in prayers for the easing of problems.

The festival of 'Loy Krathong' is normally associated with waterways events. Why not, for Thailand has plenty of rivers, canals and other expanses of water.

Light and water - or light on water - were always an evocative mixture, even without the benefit of such a beautiful festival as Loy Krathong.

The full moon of the twelfth lunar month - normally in November is the time when Loy Krathong traditionally takes place. As with all things Thai, this is time for a festival, so why restrict it to one night.

Everything that Thais want to do on the given water space could not possibly take place on just one night. So, it usually extends for several nights or so.

What is a Krathong?

Krathongs come in all sizes: This one very bigA Krathong is traditionally a floating banana leaf cup, nowadays decorated with all manner of flowers and banana leaves to resemble lotus flowers - intended or not!

The cup is sent on its way along the canal or river, and with it go the worries of the past, and hopes for the future, and usually a prayer to Khongkha or the River Goddess Ganga. There are several beliefs as to what the true meaning of Loi Krathong.

For some, it is the worship of the Buddha's footprint on the Namarda River bank. For others, it is to pay respects to one of the Lord Buddha's great disciple - Phra Uppakhut.

For all it is a time of great emotion and letting off of steam and frustrations - but peacefully. This then, is the Loi Krathong Festival.

As a rule the province of Tak is host to the Krathong Sai festival competition for His Majesty the King's Trophy. Most Thai provinces have their own true historic backgrounds and customs.

The Loy Krathong Festival is not about conformity - other than the religious significance. Some notable areas of Loy Krathong indulgence are:

Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai

The Yi Peng Festival takes place on the banks of the Ping River, and features a hanging lantern procession, Best Krathong design competition, light and sound on the river Ping, a Miss Yi Peng beauty competition that must surely be impossible to judge, and Thai Lanna Krathong events.

Bangkok Loi Krathong Festival

As you would expect of the kingdom's capital city, Bangkok excels in such festive events, and they include the Electric Float Procession (Illuminated boats), and Krathong events and launchings all over the capital - wherever there is water.

This year the 'Smiling in Thailand' team covered the Loy Krathong event on the banks of the Chao Phraya River at Santichaiprakan Park on Phra Artit Road, and were enthralled - engulfed - by the emotion of the event.

Tak Province - Krathong Sai FestivalTak - Loy Krathong Sai Festival

Other than the launching of individual Krathongs, Tak is host to the 'Krathong Sai' competition.

The Krathongs now made from coconut shells, and competing to take advantage of the vagaries of the river currents to get the Krathong to sail away down river in straight lines.

The prize? His Majesty the King's Trophy. Fireworks, a spectacular water curtain, the longest Krathong Sai and the procession of the Royal Krathong and lanterns.

Loy Krathong in Sukhothai

The most ancient of Thailand's provinces is not to be left behind in these events. At the Sukhothai Historical Park, there is a float procession of large Krathongs from seventeen provinces of the North.

Government departments, commercial undertakings and public bodies all join together to make this a Loy Krathong Festival Special.

Loy Krathong in North Eastern Provinces

The Illuminated Boat Procession is the answer to the loy Krathong Festival for the North Eastern Provinces. Held at the same time as the Loi Krathong festival, it is a spectacular display of illuminated boats on the Mekong River.

Boats as long as 12 metres, made from banana stalks and/or bamboos by the local villagers. The boats are designed and built to imitate famous places - or mythical creatures, and are decorated with flowers and thousands of lanterns and lamps.