Loy Krathong 2016 - 14th November 2016
Loy Krathong is a very old festival which takes place on the full moon of the 12th lunar month (so the date is different every year). In 2016 the date will be November 14th. Loy Krathong is largely about giving thanks to the goddess of water, though may be based on an old Hindu festival. There are many links between Buddhism and Hinduism, being that the Buddha was born in India. The festival is not huge in Phuket compared to Chiang Mai for example, but nevertheless it seems that everyone does it! Celebrations will be muted this year due to the death of King Bhumibol on October 13th. There are usually big parties, but this year will be more a time for quiet prayers.
Does what exactly? Well, aside from a bit of a party, you have to "Loy" (float) your Krathong - a few years ago I wrote about How To Make A Krathong. There are also beauty contests and who-can-make-the-best-krathong contests. The story below is based on our Loy Krathong evening in 2008.
Despite the weather, we headed out in the evening to Bang Wad Reservoir which is only a few kilometers from our home. The reservoir is Phuket's largest fresh water supply, so a good place to give thanks. The evening has been wet. Yes, we had been "blessed" with plenty of water. Of course, everyone waited until the rain had stopped, so it was rather crowded and also muddy underfoot. We had several Krathongs to float - one made by my wife, one made by her sister and one made by my daughter at school. There were hundreds of Krathongs in the water and hundreds more people wanting to float away all their bad luck.
Near the water were some food stalls. We did not hang around. It was crowded and muddy... and getting late. I think next year we'll go somewhere quiet for Loy Krathong.
At the reservoir we bought some "kom fai". These are lanterns made of paper with a lump of solid fuel built into the base. Simple design. All you need to do is light the fuel, let the hot air rise and watch them go. People were doing it at the reservoir.
At home we found that lighting the fuel was not so easy with a bit of a breeze. One of the lanterns took off and then landed again in the garden next door.. then took off again and got stuck in their TV aerial. I thought the burning fuel would burn their TV cable, but the lantern blew off to safety in the end. We sent 4 lanterns off into the night sky to become stars (so I told the kids!)
(above) burning fuel heating the air in the Kom Fai
(above) Once the fuel really starts to burn, the air heats up and you can slowly release your lantern... These things are getting to be a bit controversial, since they burn out and then the frame, often made of metal, falls down to litter the land or the sea.