Each year in November, locals and tourists alike will take to the nearest body of water with their krathongs (or boats) to participate in Loy Krathong. It is one of the country’s most memorable holidays, and visitors who are lucky enough to be in Thailand during this time must partake in the festivities. Here, 10 things to know about Loy Krathong, one of Thailand’s most stunning festivals.
1. The festival of Loy Krathong occurs one month after the end of Pansa, which falls on the full moon of the 12th lunar month (usually in November).
2. This cultural festival in Thailand is not a religious one, though there are ancient beliefs intertwined with its origin. Though it has strong Buddhist undertones, it is actually based on an ancient legend.
3. The festival is believed to have begun in the city of Sukhothai. A young maiden named Nang Noppamas wanted to honor the water spirit and did so by creating a boat in the shape of a lotus flower. She then offered the vessel to the king who preceded to float it down the river.
4. The boats are normally in the shape of a lotus flower, which is also a symbol of Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism is the most popular religion in the country, and over 90 percent of the population practices it.
5. In addition to being in the shape of a lotus flower, boats are also made out to look like different animals including dragons, for example. The more elaborate a krathong is, the better.
6. The krathongs, or boats, start out at as little as ฿20 but can be hundreds, depending on their size and shape. They are oftentimes embellished with things like candles, incense, colorful foliage, paper, and much more. Thais will say a quick prayer before releasing their beautiful vessels into waterways around the country.
7. The word Loy Krathong translates to, "to float one's offering." The Thai word loy means to float, and a krathong is a type of offering that is done so on water.
8. Offerings to the water goddess, Mae Khongkha, are released on water across the country during Loy Krathong. In doing so, locals hope that she will forgive them for polluting water by careless or industry means throughout the year.
9. Thailand is not the only country that celebrates water spirits. The Chinese River Festival as well as India’s Diwali Festival are two other celebrations which revolve around this life-giving source. Loy Krathong is arguably more picturesque than its competitors, however.
10. Loy Krathong is celebrated around Thailand. The most memorable places to partake in the festivities are by any body of water, of course. In Bangkok, we suggest going to a park like Lumphini or Asiatique The Riverfront, a market that sits along the Chao Phraya River. There is also a lighted lantern ceremony that takes place in Chiang Mai, the country's northern capital.