Loy Krathong

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Loy Krathong at Thammasat U, Thailand – Full Moon Candle Party

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

© Frank P. Schneidewind

 

 

Thammasat University is the not so secret party ground in the North of Bangkok. Just a few miles after the Don Muang Elevated Expressway ends, it is on the western side of Phaholyothin Road. Buses and loads of Thai typical songtheauws (Jeepney-style transport opportunities on pickup-trucks) carried thousands of spectators there tonight. Loy Krathong is celebrated on a full moon night, and the nights are warm in November. Locals earn a little money and craft those colorful floats with candles and joss sticks. Orchids in all colors are used too, but the typical purple variety is dominant. 40 Baht are the fancier varieties, they also offer Loy Krathongs for half that price or even less. Spend one or two dollars for a bunch of orchids and participate, everyone is welcome and it is very peaceful nationwide. This festival is actually being held at every other body of water, whether it is a pond, river or even a swimming pool or coastline. And it is celebrated nationwide. The controlled events at campuses, parks or official event sites draw a rather regular crowd. No rowdies are allowed and kid’s parents love the safe atmosphere. Uncontrolled events, such as mass-gatherings on beaches or some rivers, do hold a bit of a risk, due to drunkards in the crowd.

Some feature stuffed animals or other items, hearts are popular too. Some old legends play a role here. People in Thailand and also Laos and northern Malaysia have their celebrations of this particular full moon in the 12th lunar month. The ancestry and heritage of this type of rite is most probably Brahmanical. The Theravada Buddhism in Thailand adopted it a long time ago.

Couples and lovers are to be found in large numbers, as well-wishing for one’s relation is a part of modern Loy Krathong. They sacrifice a few coins and sometimes a fingernail clipping or strand of hair to flow with the raft. This letting go of something personal, is meant to take all bad spirits away. Anger, old grudges and frustrations of the past are being sent on a journey, whilst the candles and joss sticks may honor the gods. It is a ceremony of sorts to dating teenagers and young couples, but singles and older people participate as well. Many single girls with hopes to find a suitable partner come in groups and float whole flotillas of candle rafts. Men can also be spotted.

Before the floating ceremony for each person, there are plenty of chats and the socializing often gets romantic touches here. Open exchange of kisses is not considered proper in public and such actions are subdued somewhat. It doesn’t take away from the festival and prevents probably too brave guys from overstepping their limits. Holding hands is fine and common practice.

The ladies with company will have their floats lit by the partner. And be sure, hardly a lady in wait for a light needs to wait long.:)

 

 

Thammasat is a traditional University with a lot of faculties and massive amounts of students, it is also in high regards with potential employers and their AIT (Asian Institute of Technology) is said to be one of the finest technical colleges in Asia. They provided not only the grounds here, but also ample parking, security guards and organized a true Thai festival ambience with hundreds of food stalls, rides for the kids and games.

The kids proudly show you their floats and pose for a snapshot, they really enjoy this Loy Krathong festival.

Other kids helped their families to sell some sweets or snacks. It would be objectionable in Europe or America, but it is so common in Asia, that I decided to leave the lamenting to others.

The seconds before the raft is set to float are used for prayers, meditation or as a moment of concentration on the task ahead.

Whilst most floats are based on banana tree slices, some were made from actual bread. These are not only environment-friendly, they will be on tonight’s menu for the fish population in this lake later.

The sheer amounts of floating candles light up this bay, it was fairly easy to access the water safely here.

The rafts formed clusters and followed the slow current, only the candles on the bread floats flickered a lot, the bottom was already being chewed on, I guess.

It was almost impossible to setup a tripod for the camera, so the full moon and other lights in below picture aren’t as nicely pictured as they could have been with one.

There was no admission being charged here and all guests were allowed on campus. This Rangsit area is actually already a part of Pathum Thani, the province bordering Bangkok in the north. There are no known transport rip-offs for foreigners here, everybody pays the same prices. The songtheauw back to near our home was 8 baht per adult, the equivalent of a quarter $ or 0,20 € cent. We made sure to float a nice SIAMPEDIA raft to include all of you in the well wishing spirit of this fantastic festival.

Loy Krathong – the romantic Thai light festival

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

© Frank P. Schneidewind

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Celebrations are nationwide with special events dotting the country. A recommended site by the author is the big festival in Bang Sai, Ayutthaya for all those who are between the former capital and the current one at the time. A taxi ride from Bangkok downtown should not exceed 320 to 350 Baht. From outer Ringroad just follow the signs to the Royal Arts and Crafts Center. You are not far here from Bang Pa-in’s Royal Palaces or the historic Ayutthaya, so smart combinations can be arranged with a day- and night trip. No need to bring lots of money here, as it is a Thai and not a touristic event! Every pond, every canal or river or body of water in the nation will be used for this event and be full of floating candles after dark. If you’re a first-timer, just follow any Thai crowd to a river or shoreline. The use of organic materials has become a law in Bangkok for their natural decomposition.

The events in Thailand show a strong North to South decline with Chiang Mai in the North being famed for burning paper lanterns that folks release, the “Loy Khoms” can remain visible for long in the pitch black sky. Other highlight-events are being held in the former capitals Sukhothai and Ayutthaya but with a more classical approach. We skip rebroadcasting the Loy Krathong fairytale here, it is a focal point on many websites already.

Expect a lot of traffic going that way! Just follow the flow, it will be police guided from far away and the hordes will be sent to parking lots and improvised parking lots. Public transport here collapses in the afternoon. Vehicles are all jam-packed with passengers heading for the venue.

The venue itself is always guarded by the Army and later we understood why! Her Royal Highness the Princess was expected here and no less then 4 Beauty queens from surrounding districts. Admission to the grounds was 50 Baht and that included all sorts of entertainment on a number of stages, spread over the large area in the park along the beautiful riverside of the mighty Chaophaya, the “River of Kings”.


Loy Krathong in Bang Sai, that is a yearly highlight for thousands of Thais
, official numbers are surely guesstimated, figures of half a million event-goers float on nice weather days in the media. The event does not appear crowded like a super bowl or 4th of July by the obelisk’s reflecting pool in Washington D.C.
, you always have enough room to breathe despite the large crowd there.

The Krathongs always have a colorful array of flowers surrounding the candles and they are precision built handicrafts. Orchids are used in variations by the score.

Krathongs are incredibly inexpensive here, traditional the revelers without a self-made one gear up at one of the many stores on the sidewalks here. Fully decorated and ready to float, they command 10, 20 or 30 Baht, depending on their size.

 

A contest area displays the most delicate and impressive Krathongs, the winners are put up here for public display:

The incense sticks are lit before the candles and the smell of those, the lights and colors are truly mixing to an outstanding blend, that I never witnessed in this intensity before.

Endless detail on some of these floats is shown and true Thai craftsmenship is unquestionable here. The masses move to a large part and we got carried across the entire park this way.

Some of those highly decorated Krathongs seem so top-heavy, they may never really float for long but we end up here at the water’s edge and get even more to see.

Small gold colored coins, usually 50 or 25 Satang pieces are added to the floats before their release in the water.

Thai style snackeria with superb foods served for small change also!

The youngest have a lot of fun too, it’s a family event and tons of kids are around also.

The site for placement for the Krathongs is a bit crowded at the shore:

 

Thousands float their candle boats on Loy Krathong Day, full of a lot of wishes for the coming year and a few small coins that naughty kids take. Some cry out, when a nearing incense stick burns their earlobe or a candle wax drops on their tiny hands, when they are grabbing the coins.

The majestic and huge Krathong on the river, tells commercial boats to stay clear of this area and provides a nice backdrop for the endless flow of burning floats going downstream.

The cost for this day was marginal, except the transport. Food was also very low priced. Drinks were sold cheaper directly from ice-boxes here than at the Supermarket! Unbelievable how great a day in Thailand can be without a lot of foreign tourists! Priceless the photo and video opportunities, but tripods will be difficult to haul around. We sure return here for another Loy Krathong!

© by Frank P Schneidewind