Loi Krathong festival (also commonly spelt ‘Loy Kratong’) is celebrated in Thailand on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar – which means it usually falls in November in the Western calendar.
“Loi” means “to float” and a “Krathong” is a small raft, traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. The Thais float these on rivers and lakes throughout Thailand during Loi Krathong. The Thai tradition of Loy Kratong started off in Sukhothai, but it is now widely celebrated throughout Thailand, with the festivities in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya also being particularly well known.
Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the candle raft is symbolic of letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and bad luck, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot. People will also cut their fingernails and hair and add them to the raft as a symbol of letting go of negative influences.
I have wanted to experience the Loi Krathong festival at Sukhothai since I first arrived in Thailand more than two years ago, and this weekend I finally made it! This podcast begins before I traveled to Sukhothai, sitting on a sunny bank by a lake in Mae Sot near the Burma border…