Festivals and celebrations

Loi Krathong, the festival of lights in Thailand

The Festival of Loy Kratong is one of the most beautiful Buddhist festivals celebrated every year in Thailand: description and date 2019:

Date of Loy Kratong 2019

The festival of lights is celebrated during the full moon of the 12th month of the traditional Thai lunar calendar, usually around November.

The next Loy Kratong will be held on November 13, 2019


This tradition was initially celebrated in Sukhothai but is now celebrated throughout the country.

Loy” means “to float” and Kratong is a small raft about twenty centimeters in diameter.

Raft Krathong

The Kratong was initially carved from the section of a banana trunk and decorated elegantly with banana leaves, flowers, candles, and three incense sticks.

But today, there are many versions made of plastic and polystyrene.

Participants also put nails or hair in the Krathong and symbolically, all the problems, resentments, and bad memories, to be able to forgive, free themselves and then be lighter to move forward!

Some also add money to the raft, hoping in return for a good fortune.

The Kratong often has the shape of a lotus, but it can also have the appearance of a swan or stupa.

The Festival of Lights is also the occasion for the competition for the most beautiful boat.

Loy Kratong in Bangkok
Loy Kratong in Bangkok

During the night of the full moon, many Krathongs are deposited on the banks of a river, canal, lake or basin.

Launching krathongGovernments, companies, and other organizations manufacture more massive and more elaborate krathongs, and they are often evaluated in competitions.

On this occasion, flying lanterns are also flown into the sky.

Thai cities organize fireworks and beauty contests.

Beauty contest during Loy Krathong
Beauty contest during Loy Krathong
Krathong and fireworks
Krathong and fireworks

Origine and symbols of Loy Kratong

The festival of lights has its origins in India, deriving from the Hindu festival of Divālī, during which floating lanterns thank the goddess of Ganges for having given life all year round.

According to the King’s writings Rama IV in 1863, the originally Brahmanic celebration was adopted by the Thailand Buddhists as a ceremony in honor of the Bouddha.

In addition to showing reverence for the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the release of Kratongs also symbolizes the abandonment of grudges, anger, and evil.

Similarly, participants cut their nails and hair, which symbolize the bad aspects of themselves and place them on the rafts.

Many Thais think that floating a Kratong will bring them luck, and they do so to honor and thank Phra Mae Khongkha, the Thai equivalent of the Hindu goddess of waters.

Loy Kratong, La fête des Lumières
Lantern release

Thai originals of the Festival of Lights

According to the most commonly accepted legend, there was in the Sukhothaï Kingdom (c.1220-1350), at the court of the King Pra-Ruang (also known as Lithai), a Brahman priest who had a lovely daughter named Naang Noppamart.

She was smart and endowed with artistic talents, making her capable of making magnificent garlands of flowers.

Her beauty and talents caught the king’s attention, and at the age of 17, she was admitted to the rank of royal concubine.

At that time, the Hindus celebrated a feast in the 12th lunar month where they worshipped their three main gods (Brahmâ, Shiva and Vishnu) with lanterns mounted on long poles and by releasing lanterns into the sacred river of the Ganges in order to pay tribute to the goddess Gangâ, “Mother of the Waters“.

Accompanying the expansion of Hinduism in South-east Asia, these traditions reached the Khmer Empire and then Thailand.

The King Pra-Ruang wanted to create a Thai version of this Hindu festival and organized a “Floating Lanterns” contest on the night of the 12th full moon.

Naang Noppamart used her talents to build a beautiful boat, using a trunk and banana leaves to decorate it in the shape of a lotus flower.

Her raft won the competition, and the king decreed that from then on, this Kratong would serve as a model for this new Festival of Lights.

Naang Noppamart became the king’s favorite and led a happy life.

Legend or reality?

Who knows, however, the story of Naang Noppamart adds a touch of charm to the festivities of Loy Krathong, and to this day, the one who wins the beauty contest of the light festival receives the title of “Reine Naang Noppamart.”

Photos of the festival of lights

Video of a lantern release during Loy Krathong

See also:
Festivals and holidays 2019 in Thailand

Photos: Loy Krathong in San Sai: Takeaway: Loy Krathong Bangkok: Robertpollai: Festival des lanternes San Sai: Takeaway; Launch of Krathong: John Shedrick; Krathong and fireworks: Jonathan144; Source: wikipedia.org

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Settled in Thailand since a few years (with trips to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia), I love this country and its inhabitants, the real country of Smiles! Sorry for any translation errors that may occur. Feel free to mention them in the comments, I will correct them. Thank you.

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