Loi Kratong Festivities - Good or Bad
Krathong and Culture
This is one of my most favorite festival since I was young. In November every year I have planned to purchase a flowers to make a floating Krathong by myself (if I have free time). Typically, the purpose of floating krathong in ancient belief is to worship a Goddess of the river namely Phra Mae Kong Kah who provides abundant water for agriculture and extensive uses, in contrast, she also protects natural disaster such as floodwater from destroying agricultural land and human.
In fact, this cultural fest is from Sukhothai era under the reign of Pra Raung, one of a king concubine or mistress namely Noppamas invented krathong which is a lotus shape floating on the river. This festival is also called "Yi Peng" means "Full moon night in the second month of ancient north calendar" in the northern part of Thailand such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang etc. It is slightly different belief and celebration between Bangkok and the Northern provinces. In the north, in general, will float the flying lanterns to show the respect to the lord Buddha addition to floating krathong in the canal or river.
Some beliefs the festival originates from the Buddhism. A Krathong uses to show respect of the footprint of the Lord Buddha in a sandy beach of the Narmaha river in India or it implied that this festival is influenced by Hindu religion which is the original of the Buddhist.
Then, this festival stated as a national Loi Krathong day in according to a lunar calendar each year. Regularly, the celebration of this festival is in the full-moon night in November or 12th month in Thai ancient calender. This festival becomes a culture and tradition of showing the gratitude to our nature, and it indirectly instruct of showing respect to elderly or seniority.
Nowadays Loi Krathong is obviously significant festival celebration nation wide in November each year. Both Thai people and tourists hold krathong on hands heading to the canal or river nearby with the same purposes. To show the gratitude to the water is remain the key objective of Loi Krathong day.
What is Krathong?
It is neither easy nor difficult to make a krathong by yourself. The materials used to making a krathong can be bought in the markets everywhere before or at Loy Krathong day. If you want to make it by yourself, here is the DIY brief tips.
1. A proper size of rounded - cut banana tree to make a foundation or a base of krathong.
2. Banana leaves or other type of leaves which can substitute the banana leaf. A krathong maker will fold banana leaf into the lotus's petal shape or other shape on individual accord.
3. Small bamboo pins, pins, needles to use it sticks the banana leaves, flowers to the foundation.
4. Flowers or good name flowers such as lotus, marigold, globe amaranth, rose, orchid, jasmine and so on.
5. 1 candle light, 3 joss sticks which represent to the three gems i.e. lord Buddha, law, and brotherhood of monks.
The making krathong stage is quite difficult for a new krathong makers. The krathong will be beautiful and attractive or not depends on the individual's creativity.
As the environmental concern recently the Thai government have been releasing the campaigns of green krathong by using only natural materials making a krothong.
Prior to launch those campaigns, most of krathong made by foam as a base and papers as a petals even the plastics also used to make a krathong. There are some benefits of using those imitated materials in collecting krathong or cleaning krathong procedures after Loi Krathong day. As the lighter weight of foams, papers and plastics easily collected them out of the rivers but difficult to eliminate them later on. Compared to the natural krathong's materials are heavier in weight, easier rotted, make them more difficult in collecting procedures but easier to eliminate them. According to this awareness, the more natural materials used, the more environmental friendly is.
How Long This Festivities Will Survive?
It is definitely a thousand tonnes of pollution from Loi Krathong festival each year. Not only myself but a new generation of Thai people questioning that this culture pollutes the rivers or it is showing respectfully to our lord Buddha and Goddess of the River as Thai believe. The major environmental concern seems to be the key issue in argument or discussion regarding to this festival more and more recently.
According to the climate change and global warming awareness world wide, the government has been releasing many campaigns to build awareness of ecosystem friendly among citizens to reduce the amount of garbage from krathongs, lanterns and others. However, those campaigns released are not impact to the majority of Thais who have strongly believe in paying gratitude to both mother nature and lord Buddha will make them get a fortune or good luck during the year.
Moreover, Loi Krathong plays a significant role as a representative of a uniqueness of Thai culture and traditional which attract the tourists to come to this country each year. It is promoted by Tourism of Thailand (TOT) as a national festivities welcoming or inviting tourists world wide. Imagine how much income from tourism and hospitality businesses the government would have received from this particular festival.
Nevertheless, the environmental campaigns impact to many groups of the people who aware of the lukewarm climate such as NGOs, young generations, environment cares parties and some other groups. The festival which has a deep root in Thai culture is argued by those environmental caring parties that it is a rubbish creation or optimistic festivities. The native impact to the ecosystem is obviously important more and more currently. So what you think how long this festivities will survive?
Other Activities in Loi Krathong Days
Besides floating krathong on the rivers, ponds, and/or canals, there are many interesting and amusing activities celebrated in this importantly cultural days. The most interesting activities are
- Beauty Pageant competition
- Floating krathong competition
- Large krathong competition including large krathong parade competition
- Amusement parks
- And there are fireworks launching celebration
You will find yourself enjoyable with this festivities in Thailand in November every year. Welcome and be my guests.
Similar festivals in other countries in Asia
There are similar festivities like Loi Krathong in Thailand in many countries in Asia such as Laos, Republic of Myanmar, some state in Malaysia such as Penang, Combodia, China and India. The significantly beliefs in this festival are quite similar is to worship the lord Buddha.