Friday, December 5, 2008

Loi Kratong

A few weeks ago was Thailand's Loi Kratong festival. 'Loi' means 'to float (both air and water)' and 'kratong' are small floating rafts made of wood and banana leaves and decorated with flowers, candles and incense. Thai people set them off in the river.

During the festival you are supposed to 'Loi' a 'Kratong' to release the past year and bring happiness and good fortune in the new one. You put a hair or nail clipping on your raft to symbolize new beginnings, and a 1 baht coin for good fortune.

The festival starts on Saturday when hundreds of people gather to release Khom Loi (paper lanterns with wax candles that float them along), 

and continues Tuesday - Thursday with endless fireworks (yes, day and night -don't ask me why)

lights, paper lanterns, and candles decorate the city

there are nightly parades and thousands of people gather at the main bridge in town to Loi Kratong, party and set off more fireworks.

I went by myself because I enjoy exploring crowded areas like festivals on my own (I get claustrophobic if I have to worry about not losing people). I like be anonymous and watch the goings on. I was thinking as I walked around how I could possibly describe this festival on my blog, but it's utter craziness and I'm sure I won't do it justice. Just imagine a huge, crowded celebration in honor of the river goddess... the entire city lit up with all manner of decorations and people setting off fireworks constantly everywhere (preferably in amongst large crowds of people) like on this bridge:

It was beautiful, and shocking, and exciting and overwhelming. 

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