November full moon shine, loi Krathong, loi Krathong… For Thais and visitors alike, once you have experienced the November Full Moon Festival in Thailand, the experience will stay with you forever.
I arrived in Phuket just a week ago due to a family emergency. Thankfully, my mom’s health is no longer critical, and I have had a chance to visit places and participate in activities with my family in between each visit to her at the hospital.
I am lucky to have a chance to enjoy Loi Krathong with my family here at our village. Our last Loi Krathong together was 13 years ago. Loi Krathong day is one of joy, fun and hope. It is a ritual in our culture that enables us to celebrate yearly to have fun, make a wish, and to let go.
I hope you will enjoy sharing my day in Thailand on Loi Krathong Day, and knowing a little about how a traditional krathong, a floating decoration or boat, is made. Be sure to check your calendar for the date of the November Full Moon Festival before planning a visit to Thailand. Suksun Wan Loi Krathong – สุขสันต์วันลอยกระทง – Happy Loi Krathong!
A saw is used to cut the trunk of a banana tree into small, disk-like bases.
Small slices of banana trunk make a traditional, biodegradable base for a krathong. The banana trunk is full of air pockets, which is perfect for keeping a krathong afloat.
Banana bases are covered and decorated with banana leaves and flowers.
The full moon of the 12th Thai lunar month is Loi Krathong.
When we were young, we were always excited about this special time. We made our own krathong using banana trunk parts for the floating device and decorated it with folded banana leaves or other green leaves. Then we added any flowers that were in bloom in our or our neighbor’s garden. Finally, we added three incense sticks and a candle. Before letting go of our krathong to the river or lake, we each added a few items to our own krathong, like small clippings of our fingernails or hair—things that were symbolic of letting go—and some coins. When we arrived at the lake we would spend a peaceful moment under the stars and the light of the full moon. After lighting the incense sticks and the candle, we would kneel and thank the Goddess of Water – Phra Mae Khongkha พระแม่คงคา. Then I would make a wish for my family’s good health and happiness, and all of the things that I wanted to let go. Next I would place my krathong on the water and, with my hand, gently wave the water to push the krathong forward. As the krathong drifted away, we watched it float away and let go of all things needed. As the krathong became small, we headed home with a great sense of renewal!