Very few events have such a suggestive force as the Festival of Lights in Thailand. It is said to be a truly unique, incredible ceremony, where tradition, spirituality and emotion blend into one.
The Festival is an annual event held on the full moon night of the twelfth month of the Thai calendar, which usually corresponds to our month of November.
The festival, which is one of the most important in the country, is divided into two parts: the “Yee Peng” (usually associated with the Festival itself, where the lanterns are released into the sky) and the “Loy Krathong”, where the lanterns are released into the river instead.
The Loi Krathong, which literally means “Floating Basket”, begins in the evening, when everyone meets on the banks of the river with their krathongs, baskets made mostly from flowers and banana leaves (or any other biodegradable ingredient, such as bread), filled with candles, incense and even food or coins; if you want to join in the celebrations, you can make your own krathong quite cheaply at one of the many street stalls.
Then, in an almost surreal silence, everyone lights the candle in their basket, before letting it float along the river, and everything suddenly lights up!
The release of the baskets symbolizes the letting-go of bad luck and negativity, and is a real mark of devotion to the Buddha. In addition to driving away misfortune, the floating of the krathongs is also a sign of respect and gratitude to the Goddess of Water Phra Makhongkha.
The Yee Peng, the “Lantern Festival”, is celebrated at the same time. During the Yee Peng, thousands of paper lanterns are lit and then fly away into the sky with the force of the heat from the burning candle.