Yesterday was Loy Krathong day here in Thailand. Loy Krathong is a festival celebrating the water spirits/goddess. Almost everyone in Thailand celebrates this day by making krathongs to float on the river. I read recently that “loy” means float, and “krathong” means little boat or raft.
In order to celebrate the spirits, Thai people decorate their krathongs with materials ranging from banana leaves, flowers, fruit, sweets, and vegetables. They are usually small, but I saw some very large ones down by the river last night. In order to pay offerings to the spirits, people put little pieces of their hair or fingernails on these boats, light incense and a candles, bless them and then send them on their way. Because I cut dreadlocks off last December, I decided to put one on the krathong Gary made as part of my offering and as a great way to send off yet another dread.
All day the students at Thida were getting ready for the special event. Many of the Mattayom girls made krathongs during the school day and some of them were even in the Thida Loy Krathong beauty pageant. The krathongs that the students made were very ornately decorated and so were the contestants in the pageant. It was a difficult day for teaching, as most of the students were distracted by the events that were happening and that were yet to come.
When I got off work, I headed down to the river. Here, there were more krathongs to be purchased as were many lanterns. These lanterns lit up the sky as people lit some fire underneath them so they could float up like mini-hot air balloons. Some of the lanterns would catch on fire and fall back down from the sky in a dangerous, firey turn of events. The streets were filled with people who were on their way to the river, buying goods, or going to the concert set up in the middle of the street.
In order to meet Gary, I had to walk past all of these people, including walking by the stage. This turned into taxing feat as I had to walk single file past the concert goers. When I finally got passed the stage, I was at the part of the river where there are stairs going down to the river’s edge. I met Gary and some of his coworkers by some ladies who were selling baby turtles (tao).
After meeting, we walked down the steps to the river. Gary put some of his hair on the krathong and I put on my dreadlock. We both blessed the krathong and made wishes before putting it in a metal basket that was attached to a rod, kind of like a metal fishing net. We lit the incense and candle, which almost immediately went out, and sent our krathong off on its magical journey. It was a really great night of Thai tradition and I’m happy that I was able to participate.