We had just arrived at the U-Tapao International Airport in Pattaya, Thailand and passed the immigration check point when some gorgeous models (AirAsia Thailand staff??) handed us some lotus shaped bread and urged us to take some pictures with them.
It was then we realized it was actually the Loy Krathong festival which was happening on that day and we were lucky to be able to be a part of it... Determined not to miss this festival, Mariam, our tour leader checked to see where the Thai people would be gathered to celebrate this festival and came back with a short list....
Loy Krathong happens to be one of the most picturesque festivals in Thailand, when people gather around lakes, rivers and beaches in the evening to pay respects to the goddess of water by releasing beautiful lotus shaped rafts, decorated with candles, incense and flowers onto the water.
|Photo credit to atbangkok.com
Loy Krathong falls on the night of the twelfth lunar month (usually in November), at the end of the rainy season when the full-moon lights up the sky.
|photo credit to thailandee.com
The sight of thousands of Krathongs and Khom Lois, sending a thousand pinpoints of light far into the horizon and up into the dark evening sky is truly an amazing sight and one you won't easily forget....
Loi (ลอย) means “to float”, while krathong (กระทง) translates to “floating crown” or “floating boat” The traditional krathong are made from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant. Modern krathongs are more often made of bread like the one here given to us by the Thai AirAsia staff. A bread krathong will disintegrate after a few days and can be eaten by fish. Banana stalk krathong are also biodegradable. There are also Styrofoam krathongs but these are bad as they pollute the rivers and take years to decompose.
A krathong is lovely and decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, incense sticks, and a candle. A small coin is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirits.
On the night of the full moon, the Thai people launch their krathong on a river, pond or at the beach making a wish as they do so. The festival may originate from an ancient ritual paying respect to the water spirits..