At the end of November each year Thailand celebrates Loy Krathong and sees locals taking to the nearest river or lake to float their krathongs. It is one of the most popular festivals of the Thai calendar and takes place across the country when water levels are high after the end of the rainy season. The name of the festival itself refers to objects floating in the water: loy means “to float”, while krathong in this case means “a small container made of leaves which can be floated on water during the Loy Krathong festival. This is a local experience you and your students will not want to miss while in Thailand.
The festival started during Thailand’s Sukhothai period, when one of the King’s wife made a kratong for the king who then placed it in the river to worship Buddha. Since then, Thai people have done the same to pay respect to the goddess of water.
As paper and foam board damage the environment, krathongs are made by from natural materials like vegetables, flowers and bread. In the evening, locals go to the river to float their krathongs. Some also put some coins in their krathongs, hoping for good luck in their finances. You may even see some children jumping into the river and swimming to collect these coins.
Some schools also have krathong or beauty queen contests known as “The Noppamas Queen Contest”. Noppamas is a legendary figure from the Sukhothai period, based on the King’s wife.
Other parts of Thailand celebrate, such as Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, celebrate Loy Kratong as the Yee Peng Festival, which sees locals releasing khom loy or floating lanterns into the night sky with the belief that any misfortunes will fly away with the lanterns.
If you and your students have the chance come to Thailand during November or December, we can arrange for your educational program to include this local epxerience as part of your itinerary. And as for me tonight, I will go to float my krathong to pay respect to the goddess of the river and hope all the bad luck will float into river.