Happy Loy Kratong

Tonight the people of Thailand will be celebrating the Loy kratong festival; probably the most beautiful of all Thai festivals. We moved house a few months ago so this year we are not sure about where we are going to celebrate it. Hopefully though we will have better luck than last year when we had to turn back because my son was ill and my small dog was terrified of the bangers.

It is believed that the original purpose behind Loy Kratong was to thank the river god for looking after everyone. For many people in Thailand it is a chance to remember how important water is to their lives, and an opportunity to have a bit of fun at the end of the rainy season. Although Thailand is predominately a Buddhist country this festival is believed to have Hindu origins, but it was later adapted to fit in with local beliefs.

Loy is the Thai word for float and Kratong is a type of raft that traditionally made from a cross section of the bamboo tree. In the past almost everyone made their own Kratongs, but there has a rapid rise in the number of people buying kratong made from Styrofoam. These Styrofoam versions can create a lot of problems in the days after the festival and don’t seem like the most appropriate way to thank the river. That is why the Thai government is encouraging everyone to use Kratongs made from bread; at least that way the fish will get a good meal. My wife is a bit of a traditionalist and she spent most of yesterday making Kratongs with my son.

As soon as it gets dark tomorrow night we will go to a nearby river; my wife is threatening to put my son in Thai traditional dress (see picture above for what I mean). We will have our Kratong and on top of it will be three incense sticks and a candle. My wife will stick a coin into it and then we will go right beside the edge of the river making sure that we are all touching the kratong. We will then make our wishes before we launch our little boat on the water. It will join hundreds of other little kratongs moving slowly along the river, and join in with the millions of them all around the country. These little candle lit rafts are the most beautiful sight imaginable; they can even bring a tear to the most hardened cynic. My wife will try and get my son to sing the ‘loy, loy kratong’ song and then that will be it.

Happy Loy Kratong

Incidentally there is an interesting English version of the Loy Kratong song to be found here

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11 thoughts on “Happy Loy Kratong

    1. Hi Catherine, finding that song in English on that website has turned out to be a mixed blessing. My son loves it and wants to keep on hearing it; it is getting stuck in my head. Somebody I once knew got a song stuck in his head and had to go see a psychiatrist because it got so bad – I hope that doesn’t happen here πŸ™‚ I’m sort of glad Loy Kratong is only for one day and so I can remove this song from the playlist; mind you, my son was still singing jingle bells in June. Have a good Loy Kratong Catherine.

  1. Paul I hope you and your family had a great Loy Kratong. Despite having spent a fair amount of time in Thailand I have only ever been in the country on one occasion for the festival. That was back in 2002 in Tak city situated on the River Ping, and believe me it was a wonderful setting. However there was one aspect of the festival which disappointed me.

    The river bank was lined with couples and families with their kratongs, and they would place coins onto them before they were lit and put onto the water. Stood in the river were scores of kids who would take the coins from each boat before they’d even sailed a metre. I was a little bit surprised by that.

    Did the kids do the same at your gathering?
    Martyn recently posted..Thai Police – Possibly 7 to Eleven Hours An Interview

    1. Hi Martyn, it was a nice night but we didn’t stay long. I would imagine that there would be some places where the kids go swimming for the money. I’ve never really seen it but at a busy event there probably is a lot of money to be made.

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