Khom Loy – at New Year’s Eve events 2013 in Bangkok
There are two traditional nationwide festivals in Thailand, The Songkran festival and The Loy Kratong Festival. The Songkran festival is celebrating Thailand’s New Year during the 13 – 15 of April, and it is known as the water festival. Thai people throw water at each other, and it looks like they are having a good time. However, instead of throwing water in a gentle way, they throw aggressively. Not to mention, the water is not very clean. I don’t know where they get the water from, but it is definitely not tap-water, and the water is sometimes dyed by white, red, or other colors. Furthermore, they often fill balloons with that kind of water, and throw it at each other. If the balloon hits, it will be very painful, so sometimes people end up fighting over it. If you go to Thailand during that time, you might want to be careful about the water and fighting.
On the other hand, Loy Kratong is the festival to appreciate the god of water for the harvest. It is held on the night of the first full moon of the 12th month in the lunar calendar. The day changes every year, and it is usually in November. Anyway, “Loy” means float, and “Kratong” is a small basket made by banana leaves. The people decorate that basket with flowers, four incense sticks and one candle. Then, they place a small coin on the basket and float it on the river. This is the reason why the festival is called Loy Kratong. Before they float the basket, they hold it with someone they love, like their children and spouses and pray to god for their good luck. Then float it to carry their sin away. At that night, the river is covered by a large number of small candle lights on the basket . That is such a beautiful sight, but in a big city, like Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket, it is crowded no matter where you go.
Speaking of Loy Kratong, in recent years, I heard Thai people also like to fly Khom Loy to the night sky. “Khom” means lantern, and “Loy” is the same meaning “Loy” in Loy Kratong. In brief, it is a sky lantern. I also heard that at Loy Kratong at night, a large number of people gather at one place and fly sky lanterns all together. If you have ever watched “Tangled” which is an animated movie produced by Walt Disney, you can visualize that sight easily. I think it must be a beautiful sight.
When I was in my twenties, I would often go to Thailand when they have the Loy Kratong festival, but at that time, Khom Loy wasn’t popular, so I’ve never seen the view of a large number of sky lanterns flying in the night sky. Recently, it is hard for me to get the day off at that time, so all I can do is to imagine that view. However, I’ve seen a small number of sky lanterns are flying in the night sky.
These are pictures that I took in New Year’s Eve events 2013 at the Sanam Luang in Bangkok. Although Thai people use Buddhist calendar and celebrate Songkran as their new year, they also celebrate the New Year holidays as in western calendar. When I went there, a large number of people came to see the events, and some of them were flying Khom Loy. There weren’t so many Khom Loy, but they were really beautiful. I think the sky lanterns are flying in the night sky somewhere in Thailand tonight.